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21 kids and counting: The 'addictive' nature of raising a mega-family.

Sue and Noel Radford said they were going to stop at 21 kids. But now they’re having just one more.

The Radfords already have the biggest family in the UK and have featured in a series of TV shows, starting with 15 Kids And Counting in 2012.

Sue, who’s 44, announced her pregnancy in a video posted to YouTube yesterday. She couldn’t contain her excitement as she prepared to go for an ultrasound.

“We’re going to go and have a little peek at the new little Radford!”

Sue and Noel, who’s 48, are hoping their newest baby, due in April, will be a boy, giving them an even number of boys and girls.

“I am feeling a bit boy,” Sue says in the video.

 

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Birthday meal out for Phoebe’s birthday ???? #birthdaymeal #gifted

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The couple had their first child, Chris, back in 1989, when Sue was 14. Five years later, they had Sophie, quickly followed by Chloe, Jack, Daniel, Luke, Millie, Katie, James, Ellie, Aimee, Josh, Max, Tillie, Oscar, Casper, Alfie, Hallie, Phoebe, Archie and Bonnie.

Alfie was stillborn at 23 weeks.

Noel had a vasectomy after Sue got pregnant with James, but then had it reversed.

“We’re addicted to having all these kids,” Noel once said. “We just love it.”

The Radfords live in Morecambe, Lancashire, where they run a bakery and own a 10-bedroom house. Chris and Sophie no longer live at home, but 18 Radford children still do. As of April next year, that will be 19.

“Next year will be really good,” Sue says.

Meanwhile, in Toowoomba, Queensland, Jeni Bonell was “dancing” with excitement at the Radfords’ news. Jeni and her husband Ray have 16 kids of their own, and Jeni has been friends with Sue for years.

“She’s seen me through some pregnancies and I’ve seen her through some pregnancies and we chat all the way through,” Jeni tells Mamamia.

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“I’m so happy. I was dancing around as if somebody had told me I was having a baby. I was so excited for them.”

On Mamamia’s parenting podcast This Glorious Mess, Holly Wainwright chats to mother of 16, Jeni Bonell, about what life’s really like when you have enough kids to fill a football team.

Jeni and Sue got to meet face-to-face when the Radfords travelled to Australia to film the 2017 TV special 19 Kids And Counting: Down Under.

“I think it’s just really important to have somebody else who really gets where you’re at,” she says.

The Bonells’ 16 children – Jesse, Brooke, Claire, Natalie, Karl, Samuel, Cameron, Sabrina, Tim, Brandon, Eve, Nate, Rachel, Eric, Damian and Katelyn – range in age from 30 to five. Jeni knows exactly what it’s like to bring a baby home to a houseful of kids, and she says the Radfords’ new child is “blessed” to come into such a big family.

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Queensland's Jeni and Ray Bonell have 16 kids. Image: Facebook.

“How many people love it already when it comes in that door? You’ve got a whole crowd of people that absolutely adore you from day dot. I just think it’s amazing.”

Jeni says there are so many things she loves about having so many children.

“It’s hard work and there are a lot of challenges and sacrifices that come with such a big family, but there’s hugs, there’s kisses, there’s ‘I love you’ times so many people.

"What we’ve found too, now that we’ve got adult children, is they bring back a support and a friendship into the relationship. You put all your effort into raising children and then they come back and you can have some amazing conversations. Then they bring grandchildren to you, which is even better.”

Jeni, who has two grandchildren, admits that now Sue is having another baby, she’s “broody” herself.

“I want another baby too!”

She says it would have been “amazing” to have had as many children as Sue.

“She’s living our dream! But you’re given what you’re given.”

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