Brotherly love repays motherly love

BROTHERLY love is as strong as motherly love in one Ipswich family which has taken on something of a role reversal.

Simon Tomlinson

BROTHERLY love is as strong as motherly love in one Ipswich family which has taken on something of a role reversal.

Carol McLean today praised her “wonderful” sons who have helped bring her back from the brink of desperation after she contracted a crippling illness.

She has nominated them for a Stars of Suffolk Awards in the Carer of the Year category for the dedicated care they have given her.

The 54-year-old was looking after her three youngsters on her own when she contracted Fibromyalgia 15 years ago.

The condition, which causes severe fatigue and muscle and joint pain, has left her unable to look after herself.

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Ms McLean, of Kesgrave, also suffers from severe panic attacks and trance-like states.

It left her on the verge of a breakdown and she was only spared from being admitted to St Clement's Hospital by the intervention of her eldest son, Michael Hedges, 35.

Middle child Phil, who was just seven when his mother became ill, had to grow up fast by supporting his mother and looking after toddler Matt.

And when Matt was ten, he took over, helping with the chores and caring for Ms McLean.

McLean said: “They are wonderful. The kids have always been there for me and they are there for each other.

“It is horrible dealing with my illness. You get angry with yourself because you can't do things. One day you will feel OK and then you get knocked back.”

To make matters worse, Ms McLean lost her sister to cancer over the summer and endured the ordeal of travelling to Germany to watch her pass away.

She and her sister, known as Patty Stopczynski during her childhood in Kesgrave, were very close.

Ms McLean said: “She asked me to lay down with her like we did when we were kids and she never regained consciousness.”

With the help of charity Suffolk Family Carers, Phil, now 22, and Matt have juggled school and work while caring for their mother.

Matt, now 18, said: “All the things we would have done when we were much older started much sooner.

“It has been really hard. I had to get extensions for coursework and found it hard to get out socially.”

The former Kesgrave High School pupil was recently given a youth leadership award by the Stowmarket Rotary Club after being nominated by Suffolk Family Carers.

The Stars of Suffolk Awards is a search for community heroes and heroines and is a joint venture between The Evening Star and Suffolk County Council.

We want you to nominate someone who has touched your life or the lives of others for a special award.

The nominations will be judged by an independent panel and the winners revealed at a multimedia gala evening at the county council's Endeavour House on Thursday, February 5.

The closing date for entries will be on Friday, January 16.

To nominate, please fill out the form below or you can e-mail your entry to Simon Tomlinson at Alternatively, you can visit to download a form.

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