Success of charity helps create sporting legacy for son after tragic crash

Chris Merchant with sister Annika at her wedding and mum Sue. Picture: MERCHANT FAMILY

Chris Merchant with sister Annika at her wedding and mum Sue. Picture: MERCHANT FAMILY - Credit: Archant

Despite the horrific loss of her son in a freak crash, a Suffolk mother has told how she has kept his memory alive through a charity which has helped some 140 children in its first few months.

Chris Merchant, aged just 28, was one of four people killed in a two-car crash in west Suffolk, near Mildenhall.

The larger-than-life character, known as Blerch to friends, was a keen sportsman, and it was this that inspired his family to set up a charity in his name.

The Blerch Sporting Foundation has since had a remarkable 2016, with its success in helping dozens of children to take up a whole range of sports helping his mother, Sue Lyes, turn her tragic loss into something Chris would be proud of.

'It has been mind-blowing,' she said.

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'The support we have had has been incredible, but I never imagined we would have this much success by now.

'We have never done anything like this before and I feel like we are just feeling our way through it, but at the end of the day it seems to pay off.'

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She spoke of children who, thanks to the charity, have been able to try sports which their parents may not have been able to afford, with some going on to earn paid-for scholarships at dance schools or take up sport regularly.

Chris was a passenger in a BMW car driven by Matthew Grant, 24, along the B1103 Freckenham Road, near Worlington, when they were in collision with a Hyundai driven by John Dyal, 77, with his wife, Helen, 75. All four died.

The charity, which started after an outpouring of support, saw thousands of pounds raised for Chris's family, was launched in June 2016, a year after the crash.

'It is just a stepping stone for children to get that chance to try sports,' said Mrs Lyes.

'It's something really positive for us out of such an awful time.'

If you live in the Mildenhall area you can find out more about the charity, donate, or enquire about funding for your child by visiting

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