In October 1999 Swindon's Link magazine was the first media anywhere to carry the story of Sue and Ian Povey's 13th child, they have had two more children – and now also have five grandchildren. Joy Aldred went to meet Sue.
Sue and Ian (now 50 and 52), from Grange Park, and their increasing number of children, were dubbed in a TV programme as ‘Britain's biggest brood.’
Following our story the Poveys made several TV appearances whilst the local and national press scrambled for their story. Trips to London and visits from photographers and journalists from The Daily Mail and The Mirror and magazines, such as Hello and Closer, were all a regular feature of family life.
The enjoyment of talking to the press may have worn off (except for SwindonLink, Sue assured us) but having babies has not.
Her youngest Isabelle is now 6, but Sue and Ian have been trying for No. 16 ever since she arrived. "Nothing has happened so it looks like it's nature's way of saying enough is enough, which I find very hard,” said Sue. “I get really sad when the house is quiet when the kids are at school. No babies… it's horrible, like the house is depressed when they're gone. I'd love to have more."
But why? “I just love being surrounded by children, I enjoy being a mum, I revel in it. When I was younger I had a sister who was 13 years older and I felt like an only child. I hated being on my own and I vowed to have a large family so none of my children would feel lonely."
The original four bed detached house has been extended three times and now has six bedrooms, two of which have two sets of bunkbeds and a single bed to house the children.
Sue, a full time housewife, said the family has always been self-sufficient. "Every large family is tarred with the same brush; people just assume we are on benefits – we are not. My husband works and we pay our way."
The children are now aged between 6 and 29 years, with the older ones having left home. Becky, Hannah and Charlotte have their own aged 7 months to 9 years.
Growing up with a ready made set of friends has been good say the children. Ellie, 10, who sparked the original Link story, pictured between Sue and Ian above and below, said she liked sharing a room with two sisters. "My brothers and sisters are there for you when you need them, if someone is being mean they will stick up for you. If I want to be on my own, I go into the garden."
Hannah, aged 27, remembers how busy the house was in her own childhood. "It was quite chaotic but we were used to it and we all had someone to turn to. I got to share clothes and makeup and we went out with each other. Now, we go around each other's homes, and there are lots of family get-togethers.
"I have two children of my own and I think it will stop there. It was nice to experience growing up with loads of others, but I find two hard enough with my pair. I don't know how mum did it; I think she's amazing. She's been brilliant, giving me advice with my two and helping me out in the holidays. Mum has made it look so easy."