Single mum Bernadette Speers provides round-the-clock care for her disabled daughter while looking after her other two children.
The 48-year-old has to juggle meeting the needs of Aimee-Leigh Groves – who has an undiagnosed condition – as well as being a mum to Autumn, aged 15, and nine-year-old Daniel..
She admits it is a struggle to cope at times but wouldn’t want anyone else caring for Baldwins Gate Primary School pupil Aimee-Leigh.
Now she has been nominated for a Sentinel Our Heroes award in the Adult Carer of the Year category.
Bernadette, from Loggerheads, said: “Aimee-Leigh still has no diagnosis. She has seizures, she can’t stand or walk and she spends more time in a wheelchair now rather than with a frame. Her right foot is turning the opposite way to her body.
“I have to take her to the toilet, lifting her on and off. I have to dress and undress her and I have to try to keep her occupied while seeing to my other twoi children at home.
“I regularly pull my back lifting her out of the wheelchair and pushing her up banks. She’s had an amazing growth spurt and now she’s very heavy to lift.
“She is very grateful for all my help. I’m a single parent so she’s with me 24/7. It’s unconditional love. She has such a bond with me. She doesn’t like going to school because she wants to be with me all of the time.
“When I’m dressing her I have to get her to lean on me and she hugs me tight and kisses me on the cheek and it’s those moments that make it all worthwhile. I’ll keep doing it for as long as I can. There’s days where I feel unwell but you just have to keep on.”
In between caring for her children, Bernadette is also spearheading a £20,000 fund-raising effort to get Aimee-Leigh to the U.S. where experts at Baltimore’s world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital may be able to diagnose her rare condition, which is similar to cerebral palsy.
Bernadette added: “I’m baffled as to what this is. I can’t sleep at night because I’m wondering if she will have a fit or a seizure or even vomit in her sleep.
“I have to be alert all of the time. It’s a constant worry, I worry myself sick.”
Bernadette’s daughter Autumn Neale said her mother does ‘the best job’ caring for Aimee-Leigh.
The 15-year-old added: “She still dedicates a lot of time to us. It’s hard work for her, she’s not very well herself and she struggles lifting her off the toilet and in and out of the wheelchair.
“It’s incredible what she does and she deserves to be recognised.”