SUE and Noel Radford are parents to Britain’s biggest family, but the loss of one of their children has left a large and painful hole in their lives.
The couple, who have had 22 kids in total, revealed they were struck by heartbreak back in July 2014 when their 17th baby Alfie was stillborn.
During their three-month scan, a day after the family had announced Sue was pregnant, the doctor was unable to find their baby boy’s heartbeat.
They shared the painful news on Facebook, saying: “Our beautiful baby boy Alfie Thomas was born sleeping at 7.53am today. He was so perfect in every way.
“Our hearts are breaking, you will always be a huge part of our lives, Alfie, know that we loved you very much.”
Alfie’s death came nearly a year after Sue suffered a miscarriage in September 2013.
At that painful time, they had said on social media: “It’s with such sadness that we have to say our beautiful baby’s heartbeat stopped 2 days ago, we are utterly devastated beyond words.”
The Radfords now call Alfie their “missing heartbeat” and Sue had paid tribute to her late son in a very special way.
In August last year, Sue explained that the reason she has a tattoo on her hand of small footprints is because of Alfie.
She said: “So I’ve had lots of messages and comments asking me what the tattoo is on my hand. So thought I’d put a post up to show you.
“The hand tattoo is Alfie’s handprints and I’ve also got his footprints on my foot. I love that I can always see his little hand prints on my hand and that his little feet always walk with me wherever I go.”
On Sue’s foot tattoo she also has his full name, which reads: “Alfie Thomas Radford 06.07.2014.”
They are currently starring in a new four-part series on Channel 5 called 22 Kids and Counting.
Last night’s show saw Sue visit Alfie’s grave, and share details about her heartbreak.
She said: “One day I just didn’t feel him move, his heartbeat stopped and they never knew why.
“I don’t think you realise how common it is until you go through it yourself.
“I think I took pregnancy a bit for granted thinking things wouldn’t go wrong, but when you go through something like this, you realise how incredibly lucky we were to have what we had.
“Pregnancy has not been the same for me since, as you know anything can happen.”
Sue and Noel ensure that they often take their kids to visit Alfie’s grave to pay their respects.
The gravestone bears to the moving message: “It broke our hearts to lose you but you did not go alone.
“For a part of us went with you the day God called up to heaven.”
In July 2019, Sue shared a video of the family visiting the cemetery for “Alfie’s heavenly 5th birthday”, where they brought toys and released some balloons.
A year later they returned for his 6th birthday too.
In December, the Radfords also added some Christmas touches to the grave, including a festive robin, an elf, a snowman and some tinsel.
They shared a photo on Instagram with the caption: “Merry Christmas Alfie”.
Sue added in the comments: “It feels especially hard this year without my dad and Noel’s mum but you have to carry on for the children don’t you x.”
Last April, the family welcomed their 22nd child Heidie during lockdown, and took the newborn baby to visit the grave.
She shared a photo of Heidie in her carrier, and wrote: “Took Heidie to meet her big brother Alfie #babyloss #stillborn #missedeveryday.”
The family suffered further agony last July, when a thief cruelly stole a toy train from the grave.
A heartbroken Sue, who was also dealing with an unrelated break-in at their home at the time, wrote: “How can anyone stoop so low.”
Sue, 45, and Noel, 50, are parents to Chris, 31, Sophie, 27, Chloe, 25, Jack, 23, Daniel, 21, Luke, 20, Millie, 19, Katie, 18, James, 17, Ellie, 15, Aimee, 14, Josh, 13, Max, 12, Tillie, 10, Oscar, nine, Casper, eight, Hallie, five, Phoebe, four, Archie, three, Bonnie, two, and Heidie who was born in April.
The family lives in a 10-bed former care home in Morecombe, Lancashire.
They famously don’t rely on benefits, but rely on the family’s pie shop business to make ends meet.
22 Kids and Counting aired on Monday on Channel 5 at 9pm
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