A MOTHER who nursed her husband through stomach cancer until his death last month, while also providing support for their 12 children, has been described as 'an amazing tower of strength'.
Jackie Gibbons, 38, of Buckingham Grove, Uxbridge, has been nominated for the Star Carer category in this year's Local Heroes awards.
The competition, in association with Uxbridge College, acknowledges the hard work, dedication and courage shown by ordinary people who have overcome adversity.
The overall winner takes home £750, with £250 and a trophy awarded to the winner of each of the five categories: Outstanding Young Person; Community Champion; Courageous Citizen; and Fabulous Fundraiser.
Mrs Gibbons was nominated by her sister-in-law, Marion Gibbons, of Hale Road, Hillingdon. She said: "Jackie has been through so much in the past couple of years, yet the strength she has shown has been amazing.
"Her husband, Tommy, developed a slow growing form of stomach cancer about three years ago and became completely incapacitated a year later.
"He went into a hospice but never spent more than two nights there before returning home again, and required care around the clock. She never left his side and whatever he asked her to do, she would do it.
"They had 12 children between them, ranging in age from three to 38, and while only three of them actually live at home, she has spent a lot of time comforting and looking after them during their dad's illness."
Marion, who works at Stockley Academy, in Park View Road, Hillingdon, says her sister-in-law has been the linchpin of the entire family since Mr Gibbons died on October 8, aged 55.
"Despite the fact that she is grieving for her husband and trying to pull herself together, she has been an amazing tower of strength. She's done it all on her own, without any help from anyone else, and I think she deserves recognition for that.
"I don't think the family really under-stand what sacrifices she has had to make and I don't think she realises how amazing she is."
Jackie said: "After Tommy became ill it was a bit of a juggling act. Everything had to be planned with military precision. I constantly had to think about looking after him, sorting out his prescriptions, arranging for nurses to come here.
"He didn't want me to leave the house as he was worried something bad would happen, and I would often have to wait for him to go to sleep before doing things like having a bath. We were constantly living on his schedule.
"The children have been such a source of strength but it's been very difficult to control my emotions when they get upset, and I've been forced to put on a brave face.
"It's even harder to deal with towards Christmas, buying presents and planning a family get-together without Tommy. All you can do is try to be positive. Somehow, you just have to pull yourself up and carry on.
"If I won, I would probably treat the children - these past few months have been traumatic for all of us." * To nominate your Local Hero, simply fill in the form on this page and send it to: Local Heroes, Uxbridge Gazette, Bakers Road, Uxbridge, UB8 1RG.
Alternatively, email reporter Siba Matti at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the category and contact details of both the nominee and the person who is nominating.