Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 16°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Mother’s Day: Family of big-hearted Deborah Evans tell us why she is a mum in a million

10:00 30 March 2014

Nicki Crooks on her wedding day with mum Debbie.

Nicki Crooks on her wedding day with mum Debbie. 'We have so many good memories growing up: all the family holidays, birthdays... and our mum made them all so special. She is a one-in-a-million mum.'

Archant

Steven Russell hears about one treasured mum who puts herself at the bottom of the priority list and why her family are so proud of her this Mother’s Day and every day

shares
Debbie Evans with son Craig.Debbie Evans with son Craig.

Virtually all children insist their mum is one in a million, but Nicki Crooks has no doubt hers is the real deal. Big-hearted Deborah Evans has always put a smile on the faces of her sons and daughters, and helped her family with life’s ups and downs. She’s cooked lovely birthday cakes, made all her brood feel special, and was even there in the delivery room when Nicki had her own children.

But there’s more – and it’s the reason why Nicki calls her “the best and strongest mum I’ve ever known”. For, about six months ago, Debbie’s oldest son died at the age of 32.

Gareth had cerebral palsy. Unable to walk or talk, he’d spent life in a wheelchair. Last year he developed pneumonia, was admitted to hospital on a Tuesday and died on the Saturday, says his sister.

Nicki says her Mum would have been devastated, yet her thoughts were, typically, for others. “She was so brave, losing her son. She sorted the funeral out; she did all the cards for the funeral; did the flowers – all the organisation. If people were upset, crying, she’d be straight over there to cuddle them.

Debbie Evans and son Chris.Debbie Evans and son Chris.

“She was just remarkable. We were shocked how strong she was. We were really proud.

“She has always put us first, before herself, and she is the best and strongest mum I’ve ever known.”

Next week would have been Gareth’s birthday. It will be sad, of course, but this close family has many happy memories to treasure. “We had a good few years, because we were told he wasn’t going to live beyond the age of three,” says Nicki.

She recalls, particularly, a glorious decade or so when the family headed for the Isle of Wight each summer and stayed in a cottage. They’d also rent a beach hut. “It was so peaceful. Gareth loved it there. He used to eat the sand! My mum used to sit him in a paddling pool on the beach to stop him!”

Debbie Evans with son Gareth, who died about six months ago.Debbie Evans with son Gareth, who died about six months ago.

Nicki adds: “My mum had to do everything for him: feed him, change him, bath him, shave him. I think she’s absolutely fantastic for what she did, all those years. She always put us first, and not herself. It’s remarkable how she managed it. She’s taught me how to be a parent. She was there all through the births of my five children” – in the delivery room, along with Nicki’s husband, Matthew. “She taught me how to cook. I’ve had struggles to deal with and she’s helped me through all that. We’ve got some close friends and they always call her Mummy Debs.”

Nicki says her other brothers, Christopher and Craig, were born when the family moved to Peterborough. Dad Steve, now a lorry driver, was with the RAF. “In the summer my mum would get up at the crack of dawn. She’d get the paddling pool out, all the picnic stuff out, and all the kids in the street would come round and play in our garden. My dad used to come home from work to 20 or 30 kids! She was so bubbly and fun. It’s what they loved.”

The clan has lived in Suffolk for about 17 years. Home is the Chantry area of Ipswich, with Nicki arranging a house-swap about three years ago so her family could move next-door to Debbie. “She loves seeing the grandchildren every day.” There are five, ranging in age from three years to 18.

Nicki laughs about how she and her brothers have teased their mum: about, for instance, her series of hair colours over the years. But it’s clear how much they love and cherish her. “We are very, very proud of her. We all love her so much. We are very lucky to have a mum with such a big heart.”

shares

0 comments

The scene of the accident on the A133 at Weeley between a push bike and a van.

A cyclist has died in hospital following a collision with a van on the A133 at Weeley.

Police called to catch dog

Police were sent on a wild dog chase after an errant hound ran amok across two busy roads.

Man admits having indecent images of children and animal pornography

A 36-year-old man has admitted possessing thousands of indecent images of children and having extreme pornography featuring an animal.

Fire Fighters damping down the fire at The George Pub in Wickham Market in 2013

No progress has been made on the restoration of the pub by its new owners, who bought the site from Punch Taverns for £62,000 last year.

Ipswich Town V Brighton. Brighton fans hold up a banner to remember those that lost their lives at the Shoreham Air Show accident

Brighton’s travelling supporters paid their own tribute to those who died in the Shoreham airshow tragedy at yesterday’s game against Ipswich Town.

From left, James and Darren Couchman with Bob Cooper at this year's Clacton Beer Festival

Glasses were raised, beer and cider were drunk and good times were had.

Charlie Bowring tries out a tractor at the Suffolk Food Hall Vintage and Modern Tractor Fair.

Wherstead’s Suffolk Food Hall was overrun with tractors yesterday when an agricultural vehicle fair was held for the first time.

Ladbrokes in Grange Farm Avenue, Felixstowe which was the scene of an armed robbery.

Four men have been arrested following an armed robbery in Felixstowe on Friday night.

Festival goers learn archery at Mersea Island Festival, an adventure break for children, young people and adults with or without a physical or learning disability, at Essex Outdoors in Mersea.

The annual Mersea Island Festival has seen people try out a range of adventurous activities.

A woman is in hospital with serious injuries following a five vehicle crash on the A140 last night.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages