Aled Jones meets inspirational mothers, including the foster mum who has cared for 93 children, and Britain's Got Talent finalist Jean Martyn.
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Today, thousands of gifts and cards
have been given to some very special people all over the UK.
And us men, we haven't had a look in.
Today is Mothering Sunday, of course.
And behind all the chocolates and flowers,
it's a day to remember and give thanks to some very special ladies.
Which reminds me - I wonder how quickly I can get a bouquet sent up to North Wales. Sorry, Mum!
This week, I meet some very special mums,
including the mother who leads something of a double life
and the church organist who proved she really has got talent.
And we've wonderful hymns from churches and cathedrals right across the UK.
If you've walked down any high street in the last week or so,
you'll be in no doubt as to what day it is today.
Or will you? Is it Mother's Day or Mothering Sunday?
Strictly speaking, Mother's Day is an American holiday
invented by West Virginia spinster Anna Jarvis in 1907
and celebrated every year in May.
Even though we may call it Mother's Day,
today is actually Mothering Sunday,
the British festival always on the fourth Sunday of Lent.
One tradition of how the day came to be is that many years ago
young servants were given a Sunday off to visit their mothers.
To find out more, I've come to meet John Giffard,
whose family have lived in Chillington Hall, Staffordshire, for 29 generations.
I looked at the 1841 census
and my ancestor living here at the time had 38 servants.
-It was pretty hard life.
And the bells would have rung and they'd have rushed around to see which room required them.
35 stairs up to find out what somebody wanted, 35 stairs down to get what they wanted,
35 stairs back up to provide it, then 35 stairs down again.
These servants would have had
a small number of Sundays off as part of their times off
and no doubt Mothering Sunday was one that they welcome
because they got a chance perhaps to go home
and go to their own home churches, rather than following the family here to the church in the local village.
To return to your home - or mother church as it was often called -
meant travelling to worship at the largest parish church
or cathedral near your family home.
Talking of cathedrals, we're off to Salisbury Cathedral now
to sing to the one who's the foundation of our faith.
Mothering Sunday is always special for Phyllis O'Reilly,
but this year there's another reason to celebrate.
For over 30 years, she and her husband, Mick,
have been providing foster care for dozens of children.
For their dedication, they were named MBEs in the New Year's Honours list.
I've heard there's an extra special party taking place inside the family home.
Phyllis doesn't know I'm coming, and I've baked a cake.
Who am I kidding? It's way too professional, isn't it! Let's go and surprise her.
Right, Mother, we have got a special surprise for you. Mother...
-Oh, my goodness me!
-How are you?
-You all right?
-It's not a party without a cake, is it? How are you?
-Fine, thank you!
Are you all right? You've gone a bit speechless!
-That's for you.
The ultimate mother on Mothering Sunday, eh? Well done.
So, Phyllis O'Reilly, MBE.
-That sounds fantastic, doesn't it?
-Very good, yes.
-How do you feel about the award?
-Erm, very pleased now.
It was a surprise to begin with.
But I'm very pleased with the people that have sent us cards and letters
and rang us up, and they've stopped us in the street.
It seems a really massively happy house.
Is God at the heart of the house?
-Do you bring the children up through faith?
-Yes, they come to church.
The little girl that goes with me at the moment, you know,
they all love her at church and they all want to take her home with them.
Mothering Sunday must mean such a lot to you.
-How many children have been through this house?
-Wow. And you've still got a smile on your face!
We had two sons of our own, Stephen and Paul.
And then we decided to foster.
-You're on the cake!
Three of them, we've adopted.
Some have come and stayed long-term, foster children,
and some we've had as short term.
We couldn't have done it without our elder sons, Stephen and Paul.
One of the best mothers in the world, the most humble woman
-you've ever met in your life.
-She is, isn't she?
Do anything for anybody,
doesn't want anything done for herself.
Puts everybody else first, and that's how she's always been.
I think people don't see the work that my parents do
with foster children and providing for the family.
It's a recognition to encourage other people to do it.
When did you first come here, then?
I was about six months old when I first came
and then I was adopted when I was ten.
-What makes her so special? I know she's listening!
Let's make her blush.
She's kind-hearted, patient, doesn't shout.
-Not too much.
So was church important when you were growing up?
That was the rock for my mother and my father.
You know, the sanctuary as well.
She's got so many great friends that she's met through the church.
I think it's her way of giving back to the world.
-In must be pretty tough for you saying goodbye sometimes, isn't it?
-Yes, it is. Yes.
Especially if you've had them from a baby,
you know, because you do get very attached to them.
But once you've met adoptive parents
and you know that they're good parents
and the children gel with them, then it's easy to let them go then.
I just really want to thank her for everything.
She's been there for all of us - true inspiration.
Sharon Stewart has something of a double identity.
To her three children, she's Mum.
But, to her colleagues, she's Lieutenant Colonel.
For over 20 years, she's served as a nurse in the Territorial Army
and has recently returned from Afghanistan.
It's really tough. We train hard.
We have lots of clinical training, lots of military training.
We're a soldier first.
So what do your children think of Mum?
I think they think I'm a bit crazy.
I think, you know,
it was a very confusing time
when I told them about the fact that I was going to Afghanistan.
They'd ask questions like, "Mum, are you going to die?
"Is that going to happen to you?"
And those are very difficult questions for me to answer
because, whilst I wasn't on the front line,
obviously Afghanistan, you know, does have its dangers for a nurse.
-Would you say war is a godless place?
-No, it isn't. God is there.
You know, at times, I found it really difficult.
Particularly when I'm dealing with soldiers who have lost their limbs.
And when we had to treat children who were caught up in warfare
and I think that was probably one of the hardest things for me, really.
When you have a child to care for, through no fault of their own
who's injured, you know, you do question your faith.
You do question, "God, why are you letting this happen?"
I had a situation where I had a young girl who came in -
she was probably about five - and unfortunately she didn't make it.
And I had to stay with her throughout the night
until she finally passed away.
And just seeing her tiny hands - and I was really scared.
I was really frightened as I thought, "I've never seen a child die before."
And I think because I'd been questioning God all the time,
the first thing that came into my head was to say the Lord's Prayer
and that gave me a real strength.
And it was at that time that I actually knew God was with me.
I witter quite a bit!
And I'm always talking to Him upstairs. "Look, God, please," you know.
I remember looking at my hands and saying, "Please give me strength to do what I can."
We're celebrating Mothering Sunday. What does your mum mean to you?
She means a lot, yeah.
Obviously with all that she does with her nursing and stuff,
it makes us all very proud of her.
It's like someone else always needs her slightly more than we do,
so we're all right to give her up for a few months to someone else.
-Only for a few months?
-Yeah, only for a few months!
I don't think I could cope for any longer, to be honest.
You've done such good work that you're getting an award.
It's the Associate of the Royal Red Cross.
And it's an amazing award to be honoured to receive, really.
Whilst my name is on the award,
I do acknowledge that it's a team effort that makes it out there
and I can put my hand on my heart
and say that everyone had the guy on the stretcher as their first thought
and gave the best care in the world to that guy.
Our next hymn is based on the Magnificat, Mary's hymn of praise
when she discovered she was going to be the mother to God's son.
With the school choir competition just around the corner,
it's rather apt that we hear from one of the finalists
from last year's competition, St Edmund's, Hindhead.
I bet they make their mums proud!
How lovely to see you! I can't wait for this.
'Jean Martyn has been a music teacher and a church organist for many years.'
JAZZY VERSION OF SONGS OF PRAISE THEME
'But when she auditioned for Britain's Got Talent last year,
'no-one could have predicted what was going to happen.'
-I didn't go in it to win it, Aled.
I just went in to take part. I think it's the taking part that counts.
And there were 3,000 people in the audience.
-You've got your name on your keyboard behind you.
-That's in case I forget who I am.
I don't know your surname. Could you move over slightly? Ah! It's Jean Martyn.
-The judges, they didn't know what to expect, did they?
-No, they didn't.
I thought, "Well, I've got to hit them in the eyes kind of thing with the music."
And make them sit up.
So I played four bars of Chopin's Revolutionary Study. I went...
And their eyebrows all shot up.
David Hasselhoff leaned back and Michael was frowning
and Amanda was sort of staring straight.
And then of course I went... BEAT KICKS IN
AUDIENCE CLAP ALONG
My face shows the joy and the love of music.
You do have an amazing ability.
I've only spent a little time with you, but I've smiled constantly.
I think it's because if you're happy within yourself
you can portray that to people, and I think people will pick up.
If they know you're a Christian as well, people pick up on that.
They'll say, "You're a Christian, aren't you?"
And I think, "Well, my mum's done that for me."
How important was your mum to you?
She gave me my life, she gave me my career, the love of music,
and her love flowed into me.
It was this love of music from her mother
that started Jean's lifelong passion for hymns.
And I'll be finding out more after our next hymn.
What joy do you get from playing the organ?
I think it's a spiritual thing.
When I'm playing religious music, I'm in a different world.
I get a lot of pleasure from playing religious music,
and I get a lot of pleasure from watching the congregation
who are enjoying it.
-It seems to lift them. They always know when I'm here.
Because of the style that I play!
Because occasionally we do get a bit of pedal-work
-that sounds a bit like the boogie in the hymns.
Mind you, I did play for a wedding just before Christmas
and the couple who got married, I said to them,
"What would you like when you get to signing the register?"
And do you know what they said?
-"Will you play Crocodile Rock?"
-What does it sound like on this organ?
-Oh, it was fantastic.
-Shall we have a quick burst?
-Go on, then. No-one's here.
-You mentioned a gift. Do you think it is a gift from God?
-It is absolutely a gift from God.
God provides the music and it just flows from my fingers.
Tell us a bit about Mothering Sunday this year. It's going to be quite tough for you, isn't it?
It's going to be a difficult one. It's the first one without my mum.
But I just feel that I know she's at peace now.
I know the Lord's got her. And I'm happy and at peace within myself.
With her passing away, you felt that God played a part in that as well?
When I was on the Britain's Got Talent Tour,
my mum had watched everything that I did. She was so proud.
I was just about to go on stage at Wembley Arena
and the Lord spoke to me that night.
And it was 5:40pm, I rang home
and my son said, "Mum, she's just gone."
And he said, "How did you know?" I said, "I just knew, Scott."
And it was so moving. And I didn't shed a tear for a moment.
I just reflected on her life and how much I loved her.
There was never a day went by when I didn't tell her I loved her.
And I gave the performance of my life.
At the end of it, I'm afraid I did break down.
But it was a night that I'll never forget.
-Do you think about her when you're sitting here?
-I do because that light
shines through the window. That light is the Lord telling me she's OK.
-It's amazingly bright, isn't it?
-And it does just hit you right here.
-It hits me right here.
It's amazing. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
Father God, we thank you for all your good gifts to us.
For music and memories.
For love and for laughter.
We thank you for the gift of motherhood
and for those who through their grace and love
have been mothers to us.
Help us to always follow their example
and to show your love to those in our care. Amen.
Whether or not you are able to visit your mother church today,
I hope you've enjoyed this Songs of Praise and, like me, been inspired by some wonderful mums.
Our final hymn comes from a congregation
not too far from my own mother church on Anglesey in North Wales.
Until next time, bye-bye.
Next week, I meet gospel music legend Mavis Staples.
In a memorable interview, she reflects on her career, her faith
and her involvement in the civil rights movement.
She performs some toe-tapping gospel greats
and leads the congregation in some classic hymns.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Aled Jones meets inspirational mothers including the foster mum who has cared for 93 children, and Britain's Got Talent finalist Jean Martyn, who gives thanks for her own mother. The hymns for Mothering Sunday come from churches and cathedrals across the UK.