A young man battling leukaemia saw his dream come true when a charity sent him to Africa to walk with lions.
Dale Murphy, from Cold Ashby, had his wish granted by national children’s charity Starlight Children’s Foundation.
Dale was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when he was 15 and later developed a serious bone disease.
During many long hours of hospital treatment, Dale, now aged 20, began watching David Youldon’s Lion Country DVDs.
Dale wrote to Starlight, saying: “Apart from making me completely well and having no more treatment ever, the one thing I would love to do is to meet David Youldon and actually spend some time with the lions he nurtures back into the wild.”
Determined to finish his education – and even though his illness meant he had to give up a long-awaited trip to Thailand as well as swimming for the county – Dale sat all 10 of his GCSEs, some even from his bed.
After being contacted by Starlight, Mr Youldon invited Dale and his family to spend eight days at the Lion Encounter conservation base in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia, and even met them at Zambia’s Livingstone Airport himself.
The Murphys’ visit included lion walks, a trip to the Chobe National Park in Botswana, a cruise on the Chobe River, a flight over the iconic Victoria Falls in a microlight aircraft and even a rare glimpse of a reclusive white rhino.
The young man was ecstatic about going to Africa.
Dale said: “I want to thank everyone for this rare opportunity to have had an experience which I will never forget.”