14 May 2004
Cambridge Evening News
A GRANDMOTHER who suffers from multiple sclerosis and severe lung disease has been named as the region's Wondermum of the Year.
Jan Parmenter, of Longstanton, has shown incredible devotion to her family, regularly taking care of her grandchildren, despite battling against her painful illnesses every day.
She is one of six finalists, each representing a different area of the country in the competition organised by GMTV and The Sun newspaper, after being nominated by her daughter-in-law Danielle.
"She helps us on a day-to-day level. She's just our hero. She's our inspiration and this was a chance to let everyone know," said Danielle.
"Despite the pain she has every day, she just goes through it."
Jan, 57, of St Michael's Lane, finds out next week if she has scooped the overall title, the star prize of a fortnight's holiday in Majorca and a year's free shopping from competition sponsors Asda.
Danielle, of Columbine Road, Ely, said she nominated her husband Andrew's mum Jan, in the contest after seeing it on television.
"She suffers from multiple sclerosis and severe lung disease, but during the past nine years she's always looked after her grandchildren," said Danielle, 26.
Danielle says she can't afford to put her 14-month-old son Ollé-Joseph in a nursery, but Jan insists on helping out so she can still work.
As well as Ollé-Joseph, Jan regularly looks after nine-year-old Lily-May and Dylan, seven - children of her daughter Sarah Austen and her husband Lawrence - along with Max, four, and 11-month-old Harvey, sons of daughter Lisa Miller and her husband John.
Jan, who is married to Mike, 61, said: "I thought it was a wind-up when I first heard. It still hasn't sunk in."
She says she refuses to let her illnesses beat her.
"Sometimes in the morning I am in considerable pain from the MS, but the grandchildren drive me on.
"They make me laugh, what else can I do? I could sit and vegetate and
let it take my life over, but you forget yourself when you're with them."
Copyright © 2004, Cambridge Newspapers Ltd