Mum Idol winner revealed as Teresa Witherington, who took on full-time care of newborn granddaughter after daughter died
WHEN her daughter died ten days after giving birth, grieving Teresa Witherington took on her baby granddaughter Bella as her own.
Today, we name Teresa The Sun on Sunday’s Mum Idol in our competition to find the country’s most extraordinary mother.
Teresa’s son Mason, 26, was among hundreds who nominated their loved ones for our great Mother’s Day contest — with a prize worth £10,000 including an all-expenses cruise, a family photoshoot and flowers delivered every month for a year.
Teresa’s heart-wrenching story of selflessness could not make her a more deserving winner.
The Stansted Airport security worker, from Cheshunt, Herts, who works full-time and starts shifts at 3am so she can be there for Bella in the day, told The Sun on Sunday: “I just can’t believe it, I’ve never won anything before. This is really amazing and we’re so thankful.
“There are so many brilliant mums raising kids in difficult circumstances. Before I lost Shelby, I didn’t think about how hard this could be. But Bella keeps me going.
READ MORE ON MOTHER’S DAY
Becoming a mum again is hard after losing my first baby, says Malin Andersson
Why does the date of Mother’s Day change every year
“I’m full of admiration for all the mums out there doing their best.”
Shelby died on July 15, 2017, aged 25. She had been discharged from hospital after a caesarean section despite complaining she felt unwell.
She was rushed back in when Bella was only a week old, with heavy bleeding and organ failure.
‘One in a million’
Shelby was put in a coma but died three days later from pre-eclampsia — a complication in pregnancy believed to be caused by problems with the placenta.
Most read in Fabulous
I'm a cleaning expert – how to cut down on your clothes' drying time with NO effort
My husband is 20 years older than me & the same age as my mom –she calls him son
I realised hot guy was a catfish when I spotted this tiny detail in text he'd sent
I’m a crunchy mum, my baby’s vegan & he doesn’t go to sleep until 3am
Bella’s dad handed over parental responsibility to doting gran Teresa, 55, and her partner of 18 years, Terry Nicholls, 57. And the couple turned their lives upside down to raise Bella, now four.
Teresa said: “Shelby wasn’t just my daughter, she was my best friend and soulmate. We were so close.
“Her last words as she was rushed down to theatre were, ‘If I don’t wake up, please look after Bella for me’. It became instinct. I just think of it as honouring her wishes.
“Bella is so like Shelby — they even look the same as little girls and have the same personalities.
“I try to bring up Bella just the way I brought up my two, with good manners and respect. She knows that sharing is caring and points at pictures of her mum all the time.
“Sometimes when Bella sees me cry and I tell her I miss her mummy, she tells me, ‘Don’t worry, she’s looking at you’.
“She looks up at the moon and waves too. We always talk about Shelby and write cards for her birthday. It’s important to us that we keep the memory alive for Bella.”
Teresa finds the milestones in Bella’s life the hardest.
She said: “The day Bella was born and I became a nanny, I was on top of the world. But birthdays or big moments like when she started school are always a reminder of loss.
“Bella loves dancing but when I watch her I always think Shelby should be here to see it.
“I feel like I’ve won Mum Idol for both me and her.”
Teresa also hopes her story will help raise awareness of pre-eclampsia and tells new mums: “You know your bodies best. If you are worried, make sure it is taken seriously.”
Mason, who also works at Stansted, and Teresa’s mum, Carol, 75, help take and pick up Bella from school.
In his entry, Mason told us his mum deserved “every award going” for giving Bella the best life possible, while missing Shelby every single day.
He told us: “My mum’s my hero. Over the past four years she has shown amazing strength and courage. I look up to her.
"She’s truly one in a million. When Shelby passed, she went through the worst loss imaginable but jumped straight into being a parent again, without a second thought.
“She brings up Bella just as Shelby would have wanted, taking her on adventures and doing all the things that Shelby wanted to do with her.
"At her age, she should be looking forward to retirement.
“Instead, she works full-time and takes Bella to dance, gymnastics, swimming and play dates, all while managing her own grief every day.”
Teresa’s £10,000 prize is made up of a week-long, all-expenses-paid cruise to Greece, Turkey and Italy, from Royal Caribbean International, worth over £6,600, including flights to Rome where the voyage starts and ends; a £3,000 family photoshoot, a champagne lunch, and one year’s subscription of seasonal flowers from ethical florist Arena Flowers, worth £350.
Teresa said: “I couldn’t believe it when Mason said he’d nominated me — and I’d won. Since Shelby died I just work to pay the bills and provide for Bella.
“To go on holiday, and to be pampered like this, feels incredible.
“Bella was so excited when I told her we were going on holiday. She went and packed her little suitcase.
“She’s been asking for ages if we can go on a plane, so this has made a little girl truly happy.”
Ben Bouldin, vice president EMEA at Royal Caribbean International, said: “We are incredibly excited to welcome Teresa onboard Odyssey of the Seas.
“I was particularly moved by her story. Taking responsibility for raising her granddaughter after tragically losing her own daughter is probably one of the hardest things a person can do.
“This exciting seven-night Greek Isles cruise will hopefully give Teresa a well-deserved break from the stresses of day-to-day life, and a chance to relax and create new memories with her family.
Read More on The Sun
Katie Price and Carl Woods SPLIT and call off wedding
I was charged £100 despite parking inside lines – don’t make the mistake I did
“She’ll visit destinations including Santorini, Mykonos and Naples.
“I’d like to wish a happy Mother’s Day to all of the fantastic mums out there, including those nominated. They all deserve to be truly appreciated.”
Her £10,000 prize
- A Mediterranean cruise, with Royal Caribbean International
- Family photoshoot and Champagne lunch
- Year’s supply of flowers
Source: Read Full Article