LITTLE Erik loves vacuum cleaners.

The five-year-old, who lives in Illinois, in the USA, was diagnosed with leukaemia in September last year and has a three-year chemotherapy treatment plan ahead of him.

Missing school and seeing his friends has taken its toll on Erik, but a trip to Somerset organised with the Make A Wish UK and Make A Wish Illinois charities, has helped make one of his wishes come true - to meet the real Henry vacuum cleaner.

Erik has loved vacuum cleaners since he was just two years old.

He has 10 at home, plus some toy versions, and loves whizzing around his home cleaning up the dog hair.

But his favourite, of course, is the Henry, which is manufactured in Chard by Numatic International.

Erik’s mum, Alysia, said: “When we were told that Erik could create a wish, he was so excited.

"The most fabulous thing we could think to do for him was to see where the Henry vacuum cleaners are made."

The family visited in May and between some sightseeing in London and Edinburgh, were welcomed into the Chard factory where Erik's favourite machines come to life.

Led by Paul from Numatic International, Erik played with the Henry vacuum cleaner in the showroom, explored the museum of historical machines, and was given a tour round the factory where 1,000 workers build more than 6,000 machines each day, 24 hours a day, to be distributed around the world.

Holding Paul's hand and wearing his bright orange high-visibility vest over his Make-A-Wish T-shirt, a surprise awaited Erik as production line workers helped him to assemble his own one-of-a-kind, blue 'Erik' vacuum, complete with his name and a Make-A-Wish sticker on the back.

Erik was over the moon to receive a powerful 'turbo brush', a giant personalised comic strip poster of his adventures, and a bag of goodies to remember his trip.

Alysia added: “Erik is such a bright, curious boy who loves asking questions and finding out how things work.

"Seeing all these vacuums and how all the components fit together has got to be a dream come true for him.

"His excitement when we got to the production line and saw his very own vacuum in his favourite colour with his name on was really special.

“This wish has felt like such a relief to see that Erik can still have so much joy in his life and still enjoy things that normal healthy children can experience.

"Just seeing the smile on his face has brought a sense of peace to my heart.”

Paul Stevenson, from Numatic International, said: “Numatic International Ltd was delighted to be involved with Make-A-Wish Foundation to make Erik’s wish come true - for him to travel all the way from the USA and visit us at the Home of Henry in Chard, Somerset.

“To see a young boy so happy to receive his own personalised vacuum cleaner brought a smile to everyone’s face; we were overwhelmed with his enthusiasm for our products, and it was a great pleasure to be involved.“

Make-A-Wish UK grants life-changing wishes to children with critical illnesses.

To make a donation to help a child experience their One True Wish, or to find out more please visit make-a-wish.org.uk or call 01276 405060.

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