Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 23°C

min temp: 19°C

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

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.”

0 comments

Coach Laura Johnson (middle) with the new team. Christchurch Ladies have completed a merger with Grasshoppers Ladies Hockey Club.

The effect of Team GB’s incredible success on the hockey field in Rio is already being felt in Suffolk, where the next generation of talent last night began preparing for a new season.

The scene of police activity on St Matthews Street, Ipswich

Police who carried out a raid at an Ipswich town centre flat found it had been turned into a cannabis factory with more than 200 plants at different stages of growth, a court has heard.

Manningtree band Superglu

A band from north Essex will be headlining at stage at one of Britain’s biggest music festivals this weekend.

Great Eastern Rail Campaign members at Ipswich Station: 
Jonathan Denby, David Burch, Chris Starkie, Chloe Smith MP and Bun Gummer MP

In the second of five three-minute interviews Ben Gummer, the MP for Ipswich, gives his reaction to Abellio Greater Anglia being awarded the rail franchise for East Anglia.

Sydney Mini Market, Ipswich

Three establishments in Ipswich have been given one star food hygiene ratings after latest inspections.

Maz Robinson and Harry Studd with April after she was found safe and well after more than four days.

Staff at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary have spoken of how relieved they are one of their birds of prey has returned – after going missing for more than four days.

What can you do with the kids in the last few days of the summer holidays?

There is just over one week left of the summer holidays but there is plenty still to do before the schools open their doors for a new term.

Ipswich Blue has proven to be one of the most popular of the sculptures

The much-loved and popular pig sculptures from the Pigs Gone Wild art trail will be going, going, gone at an auction soon.

Pictured at the launch of the £250,000 community fund, L-R, Simon Bryan,James Hopkins,Selina Tollemache Hopkins,Stephen Singleton.

The region’s largest independent house builder has awarded a five-figure sum to worthy causes in Suffolk during the second stage of its community donations scheme.

The summer sun will be good news for beachgoers this week

Suffolk is set for a scorcher of a week as temperatures are set to soar to 30C (86F).

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

MyDate24 MyPhotos24