06/03/2016 Songs of Praise


06/03/2016

For Mothering Sunday, Pam Rhodes meets grandmothers who are devoting their lives to become full-time carers for their grandchildren.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to Songs Of Praise on this fourth Sunday of Lent,

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traditionally Mothering Sunday.

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A chance for us to thank mums for all they do for us

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throughout the year.

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And of course, we grandmums are mums too, so today I'm going to be

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meeting a couple of very inspirational grandmas

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who help to take care of their grandchildren

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when their own parents can't.

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My children do what they can to support me,

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so why wouldn't I do what I can to support them?

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I'm in North Yorkshire

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to meet a mother enduring every parent's nightmare.

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Seven years ago, Claudia Lawrence disappeared from her home in York.

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I'll never give up hope that one day I'm going to see her again, never.

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And Scottish worship leader Grace Agbana reveals how she drew

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on strength from her church in her difficult quest to become a mother.

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I just believe that if God's people prayed for us,

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it would come to pass.

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And there will be a special performance from Grace

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later on in the programme.

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All part of today's mix of music from across the UK.

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And we start in Sale in Cheshire,

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with a rousing rendition of a modern favourite.

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Aren't these lovely?

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A perfect way to let our mums know how much they mean to us

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on their special day.

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But you know, there'll be thousands of children who are giving bunches of flowers like this,

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not just to their mums, but to their grandmums too

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because, for a whole variety of reasons, there are more and more

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grandmas who are stepping in to look after their children's children.

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Come and show me...

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At 61, Sharon Peake still takes on a gruelling daily schedule,

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looking after her two grandchildren,

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six-year-old Leon and Holly who is four.

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I'm catching up with Sharon and recently retired husband Gordon,

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in the middle of another hectic day.

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-Well done. That's lovely, well done.

-He loves that, doesn't he?

-He does.

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Your grandchild. But you used to bring your own children here,

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-didn't you?

-I did. Yes.

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-How many years ago was that?

-Oh, dear. Over 30.

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-But now you look after your two grandchildren.

-Yes.

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And how many hours a day do you do that?

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Well, they arrive between seven and half past in the morning.

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Leon goes to school at nine.

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-We have Holly till midday, and then from 3.30.

-Goodness...

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-That's quite a routine.

-Till about 5.30 when Daddy picks them up.

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So why do you do this?

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Because our children needed our help.

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There's not a better reason, is there, for doing anything.

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If your children need you, you do what you can to support them.

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-And Mum and Dad are busy working?

-Mum and Dad are busy working, yeah.

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Back home, there's no let-up with Sharon's daily routine.

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-Do you want this buttered hot?

-Yes, please. Just a moment, darling.

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We'd better get this buttered.

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-Do you want to do it?

-Yeah, I'll do that, shall I?

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Isn't this the time when you've retired

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-and you should be able to put your feet up?

-You'd think, wouldn't you?

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Why do you do this, then? Because it's obviously hard work.

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-But is it a labour of love?

-Well, yes.

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We love each other, God said to love each other, didn't he?

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And I love my children, my children love me, I love my grandchildren.

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My children do what they can to support me,

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so why wouldn't I do what I can to support them?

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How does your faith fit in? Especially with all of this.

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I mean, it's had its bashes.

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For example, when I was ill a few years ago...

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I couldn't have prayed, I was in no fit state to.

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And actually, he helped, he'd just been born.

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And on one occasion, his mummy came round...

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and she let me push him into the village.

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And my mother said to me afterwards,

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"Do you realise what she's just done for you?

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"She's just trusted you with the most precious thing in her life."

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And that helped. It helped a great deal.

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Here we go, right...

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Along with looking after her grandchildren at home,

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Sharon also gets them involved in her commitments at church.

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Because it's Lent, we've be looking at the creation story

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and creating a collage.

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And Holly's been helping me put things onto the board.

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Cos it's taken us quite a few weeks to put all this together.

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Is there OK?

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-Yeah.

-Well done.

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Once back home, there's just enough time

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for Sharon to do some homework with Leon in the kitchen.

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On the evening of July 25th, 1956...

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Good boy.

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Whilst Gordon keeps Holly amused until Dad comes to pick them up.

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-DOORBELL RINGS

-Daddy!

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So, at 5.30, when Daddy comes to collect them,

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and the little dears go home, what do you do then?

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Well, before they go home...

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We have the "Daddy, daddy, daddy!" bit.

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And eventually they do go out of the door, we wave them goodbye

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and then we like to just sit down for a few minutes until...tomorrow.

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At seven o'clock, when the alarm goes off.

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-LAUGHTER And you start all over again.

-That's right.

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For many, Mothering Sunday is a happy time,

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with children giving thanks to their mums.

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But for some it can be a time of sadness.

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The worst nightmare for any parent is if their child simply vanishes.

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And that has been the stark reality of life for Joan Lawrence

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for nearly seven years since her daughter, Claudia,

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mysteriously disappeared.

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Sally has been to meet her, to find out how she is coping.

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-TV:

-'35-year-old Claudia Lawrence has been described today

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'as a lovely girl who has no worries and many friends.

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'Police say her disappearance is completely

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'and utterly out of character.'

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It's now almost exactly seven years since Claudia disappeared.

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She lived near the University of York, where she worked as a chef.

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But she grew up here in Moulton in North Yorkshire,

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where her mother Joan still lives.

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Joan, why have you brought me here?

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Because this was so much of Claudia's life.

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Having two daughters,

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I always hoped one of them would be into the ballet.

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And things like that.

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But they were very much into horses and animals,

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from as long as I can remember.

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Tell me about her personality.

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Very kind, very caring.

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She had a wonderful sense of humour even when she was little.

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But very infectious.

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The last telephone call was on the night

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before she disappeared

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and also we had a long talk in the afternoon

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before she disappeared.

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Do you find yourself going over

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-every detail of that last conversation?

-Yes, yes, yes, yes.

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Was there something I missed all the time?

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She just seemed so normal and jolly

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and said she was going to bed early because she had to be up early.

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But Claudia never arrived in work the next day.

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Despite intensive investigations that are still going on,

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to date, no-one has been charged in connection with her disappearance.

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For Joan, it means living every day with the agony of not knowing

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what happened to her daughter.

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When Claudia first disappeared,

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I couldn't come to this church for a long time.

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I could see her at the crib services, when she was confirmed...

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There's so much of her life was involved in this church.

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Joan, how is it that you've

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been able to keep going these seven years?

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What is it that sustains you?

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There's something inside me that seems to keep it all together.

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You have your children, you love them, you nurture them

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and you want to keep them safe. You want to be there for them.

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And the devastation of this, the nightmare of this...

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Yet there's just that flicker of hope that seems to come through,

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that just...

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keeps me here, keeps me going.

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I look at a stained-glass window...

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And I'll maybe see a crucifix.

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I'll look at the window and I look at maybe Christ on the window

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and I'll look up and I think, "You know where she is."

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I can shut my eyes...

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and sort of feel a presence

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and say a little prayer and sometimes I...

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..can be...feel uplifted.

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Mothering Sunday, Joan, what...?

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JOAN SIGHS

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-It's difficult...

-Yes.

-What will you be thinking?

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I'll be thinking of the start of all this.

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And I'll be thinking of the day we got the news.

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But I will also be thinking - I have two daughters,

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two beautiful daughters, so I'm very, very blessed,

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I have two super grandchildren, son-in-law, family...

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And I think children are a blessing. And they're a gift.

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But I will never give up hope that one day I'm going to see her again.

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Never... I've had no inner feeling, no instinct,

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nothing to say that she's... Isn't alive.

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I've had no cut-off...

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here, to say that to me.

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And this is why it keeps me going.

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Later in the programme,

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we'll be hearing from worship leader Grace Agbana

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about how much she appreciated the support of her church

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as she was struggling to become a mum herself.

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But first, more music, a hymn for Mother's Day,

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performed by Peterborough Youth Choir.

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# For the beauty of the earth... #

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The past 40 years have seen the city of Aberdeen become

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one of the oil capitals of Europe.

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The oil and gas industry, along with two universities,

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have brought people together from all over the world,

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including Christians from many walks of life.

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Aberdeen's diversity is reflected in the 400-strong congregation

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at King's Community Church.

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Grace Agbana came to the city

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from Nigeria with her husband eight years ago.

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And she is one of the church's regular worship leaders.

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Whenever I go to any church, the first thing is I want to praise God.

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So when I go to the church, I'm like, "They sing differently

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"from the kind of music I'm used to, but I'll go for it."

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# Come quickly... #

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Grace found her church to be particularly supportive

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when she went through years of disappointment

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at not being able to have children.

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We married in 2004, and instantly we wanted to have kids.

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Well, in the first year there were no kids, second, third, fourth...

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Goodness, pressure started coming from everywhere.

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"Oh, what's happening? I want to have babies."

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Everyone who got married after me had their kids and went on and on.

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Until the seventh year...

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And all through this it was the Word of God that kept me going.

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I won't lie, yes, there were times where, I just felt, "Oh, no,

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"I'm not going any more. Why do I have to wait? Just give me a child."

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But eventually, it happened.

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Just as she was about to go through an IVF cycle,

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Grace found out she was pregnant.

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I phoned my husband and he said, "Pregnant?"

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I'm like, "Yeah, they said I'm pregnant."

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For Grace, planning her praise is important,

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and even when she's working hard to lead others,

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it still feels like worship for her, too.

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In my time of trial, while we were trying for a babies

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and all that, I found that the church was just so supportive.

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We just believed that if God's people would just pray for us,

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it would come to pass.

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Now, Grace is mum to two lively children.

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The church is large and full with people from different cultures

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and we are just so united and we're just so together -

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just raising the name of the Lord.

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The Bible says that when the children of God come together

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and in unity, there's a kind of power that is there.

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When we're in unity, anything can happen...

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You know, healing can take place.

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When I worship, I just feel like, "God, I avail myself to you.

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"Just use me to touch someone's life."

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# Every time I think about your goodness

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# Every time I think about your kindness

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# Every time I think of your love for me

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# I will lift my voice and sing to you

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# Oh Lord, I love you

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# I love you

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# Oh Lord, I love you

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# Every time I think about your goodness

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# Every time I think about your goodness

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# Every time I think about your kindness

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# Oh, oh, oh, oh

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# Every time I think of your love for me

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# I will lift my voice and sing to you, oh Lord

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# Oh Lord, I love you

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# I love you

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# Oh Lord, I love you

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# I hear music in my head

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# And the melody's so high

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# Oh Lord, I love you

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# I hear music in my head

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# And the melody keeps on going on

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# Oh, how I love you

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# I love you, Lord

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# From the bottom of my heart I come to say

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# I love you, Lord

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# I love you Lord, yeah

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# I give you all the praise

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# I love you, Jesus

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# You're the melody I seek

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# I love you, Jesus

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# I love you, Lord I love you, Lord

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# Whooo

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# I love you, Lord. #

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If that bit just fell off, it would be like the Titanic.

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Earlier, I was talking to Sharon Peake,

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one of thousands of grandmas who look after their grandchildren

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when their own mums and dads are working very long hours.

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But some grandparents have to take over as permanent carers

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when there really is no-one else around to bring up the children.

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This scene looks like any other up and down the country,

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with parents having a kickabout with their teenage children.

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But in fact, these are grandparents Enza and Dave Smith

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who have been looking after their grandchildren,

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Bradley and Chloe, for the past 15 years.

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Our daughter was a very young mum

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and she found it very difficult to cope with our grandson.

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So we were looking after him and helping her out.

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We'd gone through bringing our own children up,

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and we got to a point where we believed that we could have

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a bit more time to ourselves

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and then we found ourselves starting again, didn't we?

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We did, yeah.

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Despite being young grandparents,

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the past 15 years have been challenging for Enza and Dave.

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Not least because of Bradley's continuing battle with

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the hyperactive disorder, ADHD.

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He was always active and always on the go.

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And we managed it through sport, and he played football and rugby

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and then predominantly rugby.

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After seven years of raising Bradley,

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Enza and Dave's caring commitments increased

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when they had to take in their granddaughter as well.

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Chloe was about five and our daughter was, again, not coping.

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So was that the point at which you realised this had to become

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a permanent arrangement?

0:25:350:25:37

-Yes, yeah.

-Yeah.

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The lowest point was knowing that Chloe and Bradley

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were with us, forever, until they were 18.

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And that they would not be in the family unit with their mum.

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We had to take on the role of being parents,

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when we wanted so dearly to be grandparents to them.

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-So that was really difficult, wasn't it?

-Yeah.

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So, during the toughest times, what got you through?

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-Our faith, primarily, got us through.

-Definitely.

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-We pray together, don't we?

-Yeah.

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And we have the good support of our church and the people there.

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Praying for us as well.

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OK, good morning, everyone,

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and welcome to Kinship Carers support group.

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Enza's experience has led her to set up a charity to give advice

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and help to other grandparents and carers in a similar situation.

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I mean, he could be up till two, three o'clock in the morning, you know.

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We know that, we had trouble with Bradley's sleeping for, how many years?

0:26:400:26:44

-Oh, he's still doing it! 17.

-LAUGHTER

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'We are there, we advise, we support.

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'And we show them that there is a way

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'and these feelings that they are having,

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'and the children are having, are normal.'

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Now 17, Bradley has become an up-and-coming county rugby player

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and he is forever grateful

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for the love and support of his grandparents.

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Brad, you've got a pretty special grandma and grandad, haven't you?

0:27:100:27:14

Yeah, I mean, they have done a lot for me

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and they have always been there for me through everything, really.

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Right from in primary school

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where I was always getting into trouble,

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and just trying to run away and get home.

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They'd always be there for me.

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It's Mothering Sunday,

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so what would you like to say to your grandma today?

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I'd just like to say, thank you for everything, really.

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And I don't really know how to express it,

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but just thanks for everything.

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It was a very tough time at the beginning, with both children.

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My health was deteriorating, and I was taken to my lowest ebb in life.

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But my chains are gone.

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And my struggles are ending.

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Life is getting easier, the children are growing up and, you know,

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God's grace is amazing.

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And that's just about it.

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Next week, Josie will be at the Birmingham Children's Hospital,

0:30:380:30:42

meeting a group of singers who are helping you patients

0:30:420:30:45

to discover that music is not just good fun, but good medicine too.

0:30:450:30:49

But we end now with a great worship song, from the man who wrote it,

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Stuart Townend performing at the Keswick Convention.

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Until next time, goodbye.

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# Oh my soul... #

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CHEERING

0:33:420:33:46

For Mothering Sunday, Pam Rhodes meets grandmothers who are devoting their lives to become full-time carers for their grandchildren.

Music:

Great in Power performed by Salvation Army, Sale Jesus Calls Us performed by the Congregation of St Machar's Cathedral, Aberdeen Beauty for Brokenness performed by the Congregation of Leicester Cathedral For the Beauty of the Earth performed by Peterborough Youth Choir I Love You, Lord performed by Grace Agbana at St Machar's Cathedral, Aberdeen Amazing Grace performed by the Congregation of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick

O My Soul performed by the Congregation of Keswick Convention.


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