'I'm a figure of hate': Single mother of 14 slams critics who brand her a scrounger

By DEBORAH ARTHURS

Mum of Britain's biggest family Joanne Watson, 40, left, stands at the head of her 14 children at their family home in St Martin, Guernsey: From left to right, Indianna, three; Tallulah, four; Armani (known as Arnie), five; Nerilly-Jade, seven; Lilly-Arna eight; Charlie, nine; Febrianne, 10; Brittany, 11; Caitlin, 12; Georgia, 15; Mariah, 16; Shanice, 19; Bradley, 21; and Natasha 22

Squeezed into a four-bedroom council house in Guernsey lives a woman branded the UK's most prolific single mother.
Joanne Watson, 40, has 14 children, ranging in age from three to 22 and survives largely on state benefits after the breakdown of her marriage in 2010.
Once celebrated in endless articles in the press for her clan of immaculately turned-out blonde children, who were then supported entirely by the salary of her hardworking husband John, Joanne Watson and her family have now become figures of ridicule - and even hate.

Quality time: Joanne relaxes with her 14 children in the garden outside their family home

The family's bubble was burst four years ago when an accident meant John, 46, had to give up work as a lorry driver.
The financial pressure of caring for his 14 children meant John made a decision he will forever regret. As his health improved and with bills mounting, John claimed benefits while simultaneously taking some earnings.
He was caught, and the man who for two decades had been seen as the model father was sent to prison. The couple, who Joanne says had been arguing for years, separated and divorced.

Supplies, supplies: Joanne at home with her weekly shopping

'I feel pretty sore about what went on,' John says now. 'I've been married 20 years and been a good father. I've worked hard. Nobody can say I haven't, because I have.'
'I did get done for benefit fraud,' John admits.' But I paid my punishment, I went to prison and I paid all the money back.
Joanne leaps to her ex-husband's defence. 'He wasn't doing it to go on holidays and buy mobile phones,' Jo says. 'He was doing it to support us.'
The publicity the case attracted has made life - one that was already played out in the public eye - yet more difficult for the Watson children. Georgia, 15, says her regular appearance in the papers makes life at her school in St Martins very difficult.

Two weeks later, she split up from Craig, who subsequently told his story to the papers. Headlines appeared: "How I escaped the baby machine", talking of how Jo bombarded Craig with texts begging for a fifteenth baby. Joanne was devastated, but now says that nothing people say about her can match the hurt of losing the baby she named Billy.
Fighting back tears, Jo looks through a box of scans and tiny foot and handprints from the little boy. 'Holding his little body, seeing his tiny feet and hands. That hurts,' she says. 'People criticising me, slagging me off, that's not hurt.'
Joanne's 16-year-old daughter Mariah recently had her first child - making Joanne four times a grandmother. The media glare this brought upon the family (and their decision to take part in Channel 4 documentary 15 Kids and Counting, which aired last night) means the Watsons are unlikely to be out of the headlines any time soon.
But Joanne, who once enjoyed the fame and notoriety her large family brought her, now insists she regrets their infamy.
'I don't want anyone coming to our house looking for a dirty story,' says Joanne. I wish they would just leave us alone.'

Squeezed on the sofa : Joanne Watson with the 11 children who still live at the family home

source: dailymail

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