23/09/2014 11:52 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

The Radford Family: Life With Britain's Biggest Family


Noel and Sue Radford are the proud parents of Britain's largest family.

They have 16 children: Chris, 25, Sophie, 20, Chloe, 19, Jack, 17, Daniel, 15, Luke, 14, Millie, 13, Katie, 11 James, 10, Ellie, nine, Aimee, eight, Josh, seven, Max, five, Tillie, four, Oscar, three, and Casper, two.

Almost all of the Radford children still live with their mum and dad. Only Sophie has moved out, to live with her boyfriend Joe and their two-year-old daughter Daisy. Sophie and Joe's second baby is due in November.

With their second grandchild on the way, the news of the Duchess of Cambridge's second pregnancy stuck a chord with Noel and Sue.

"Going from one baby to two is a big deal," says Sue. "I was dreading it, as I'm sure Kate is, because I had no idea how I was going to divide my time between two children. But there really is no need to worry, you quickly get used to it.

"I think it's really nice that there's a close age gap between Prince George and the new baby. I think that'll mean they'll be close, like our children are.

"I think being close in age helps them bond more. I know a lot of people would rather leave it quite a few years before having a second baby, but I think a small age gap really does help children become close. I think that's key to how our family works."

Lots of the Radford children were born within a year of each other. The biggest age gap is between Sue and Noel's eldest children, Chris and Sophie, who were born five years apart. The pause says Sue was partly due to her misgivings over whether she would ever have a second baby.

"After the labour I had with Chris, I absolutely thought there's no way I'm ever ever doing that again!" she says.

"It was a 26 hour labour and it put me off having more. But eventually I went for it again and the labour wasn't as bad the next time, so I carried on!"

"We thought we'd probably stop at three or four children, but we just loved having children so much that we just had more."

The past couple of years have been tough for the Radfords. Sue lost a baby in September 2013. She became pregnant again this year, but the baby was born stillborn in July.

Sue says rather than trying for another baby, she and Noel are now focusing on grandchildren.

"I don't know if we'll have any more," she says. "We just lost a baby a couple of months ago and that's still quite raw, so I'm not thinking down that road at the moment.

"But I'm looking forward to having more grandchildren. We've had more than our fair share of sleepless nights with newborns, now it's someone else's turn!

"Sophie's only got about six weeks left. She's doing really well.

"When she was pregnant with Daisy she suffered quite badly with morning sickness, I remember she was sick quite a few times a day, but this time around she's felt sick, but has only actually been sick a couple of times.

"She's a bit like me, I was terribly sick with my first but with Sophie I just felt a bit sick, like I had motion sickness and with the rest of them I've been the same.

"The only thing I've found helps with morning sickness is to eat little and often, it's far worse if you have an empty stomach. Oh, and also snacking on ice!"

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With 15 children all under one roof, Sue and Noel have had to get their morning routine down to a fine art - especially as they also run their own bakery, which involves early starts.

"I go to work early in the morning," says Noel. "Then I'll come home at about half past seven and help Sue get the kids ready for school.

"We've got five at secondary school and they all walk. I do the primary school run with six of them in the car, because it's a 15 minute drive so it's too far for them to walk. Then Sue will do the nursery run, which she walks as it's just round the corner from our home."

There's one part of the morning that Noel dreads more than most.

"Lunchboxes! I hate lunchboxes," he says. "Thankfully, there's only six lunchboxes, as the secondary school lot take dinner money. I don't think it's the 'in' thing to take a packed lunch!

"But yeah, lunchboxes are a pain. It takes near enough one loaf of bread every day to make the sandwiches.

"We buy the lunchbox stuff the night before, and we have been known to hide things around the house, because otherwise things tend to go missing and when you come to make the lunchboxes in the morning, something will be gone, so one of them won't have a drink that day or there's no cheese."

Sue and Noel have found that shopping every evening works out more affordable than doing a large weekly shop.

"I used to do a big shop once a week, but actually we found that we spend less money if we do a shop every evening," says Sue. "We buy in bulk form the local veg man and get quite a lot of stuff from the local butcher, which saves us quite a lot of money."

It's not just the size of their grocery shop that's impressive, the size of the Radford's kitchenware has also been known to raise a few eyebrows.

"Whenever people come around to the house for the first time and they see us at tea time, they can't get over the size of the pans that we cook in," says Sue. "To us it's just normal, but to somebody else it's looks crazy!

Sue and Noel cook from scratch most evenings. Dishes that are usually on the menu include spaghetti Bolognese, stews and pork chops.

With so many mouths to feed, Sue says it would be impossible to cater for fussy eaters, and luckily that's not something they've had to contend with.

"We don't' really have any fussy eaters," says Sue. "The key to that is they have to eat what's put in front of them, I never have believed in doing a couple of meals, just because once child doesn't like something."

As well as fussy eaters, another thing that's surprisingly rare in the Radford household is arguments. However, as you'd expect with so many children, sharing does throw up some problems.

"With the younger ones, there's a hundred toys in the toy box, but three or four of them will all seem to want to play with same thing at the same time," says Noel. "It' is difficult to get them to understand that they have to share.

"We don't use any techniques like the naughty step, adds Sue. "But if they've been really naughty, we'll take them out that situation and get them to do something else."

"With the older ones the arguments are generally over the internet. One of the boys will be upstairs on their Xbox and it would only take someone to start downloading a film downstairs for him of them to start come charging down the stairs and start screaming his head off. We've just gone over to TalkTalk's Fibre Broadband which is faster and seems to have cured the arguments."

Sue writes a blog about her family life and has been nominated for/won the Blog of the Year award at the 2014 MAD blog awards, sponsored by Parentdish.

We're really excited to be nominated," says Sue. "We're going to be in London for a couple of days which will be really nice. It's just me and Noel coming we've got family helping out with the kids so we're really looking forward to that.

"It is difficult to find the time to write. But when I do I really enjoy it. I find it relaxing writing in the evening when the kids are in bed and it's nice to be able to share our experiences with people."