16 years old, three children, no regrets - Life and Style - The Independent

16 years old, three children, no regrets

Don't tell Dawn Hendy that she's missing out on the best years of her life. She's perfectly happy looking after her family. Roger Dobson reports

Opposite the pub in Abercwmboi, outside one of the two-up, two-down, grey stone, terraced houses, a young couple with a pram are talking to neighbours.

"One of the newspapers has bought me up. I'm not allowed to say much," says the young girl, gently rocking the pram, which has two babies inside, both asleep wrapped in white outfits, one behind the other, tandem style.

One of a gaggle of local people standing in a semi-circle on the corner digs an elbow into her friend's midriff and giggles softly. "Mum's the word, see."

Dawn Hendy, sweet 16 and Britain's youngest mother of three, gives the pram a push over the kerbstone and walks off, hereldest daughter, Aleisha, following close behind. A passing van toots, someone shouts a greeting, people leaning or sitting in doorways that open straight on to the pavement watch as the family troops past. In Abercwmboi, where unemployment and long-term illness have taken over from mining as the main way of life, Dawn is something of a celebrity,

She wants it to be known, she tells the local radio reporter, that while she may be too young to drink in a pub and too young to drive, she is perfectly happy to have three children and has no regrets. Furthermore, she has identified distinct advantages in being a teenage mother. "It's easy in one way, as I see it, to have children when you're young. These people of 50 and 60 having children that you hear about, they are not going to be able to run around after their children, looking after them in the park. It would be quite hard work for them, wouldn't it," she says.

Nevertheless, she adds firmly, she has definitely completed her family. "No way, no more children for me. We've discussed that," she says of her partner of four years and father of all three daughters, Michael Carey.

The couple met when she was 12 and he was 16. It was, everyone now admits, love at first sight. Dawn had lost her parents at the age of nine and was brought up by a sister and elder brothers who were barely adults themselves. With this kind of background, it seemed almost inevitable that Dawn's own life was destined not to follow the norm. True to form, Aleisha was born when Dawn was 14, still at school and two years off GCSEs.

"One day the police came to the house," says Dawn, "and asked if I wanted to prosecute Michael because I was under age and he broke the rules, and I said I didn't because we are together, and are staying together. So it would be difficult to prosecute him, wouldn't it?"

She adds: "It was worrying to think that Michael could go to prison."

Neither the police nor the Pill prevented a further pregnancy, and Charmaine was born a year later. Twelve months on, and a few weeks before her 17th birthday, Dawn was back in hospital, having Yasmin, born 10 days ago.

None of the three pregnancies was planned and yet the relationship between Dawn and Michael appears to have blossomed.

Dawn has the confidence and maturity of a young mother of 20 or more as she pushes the pram down John Street. Michael, following behind, is a man of few words. He has been up most of the night looking after their eldest, who is teething.

Unemployed, he is supportive and was present at each of the births. "I think it's important to share a beautiful experience," was his verdict.

Some in Abercwmboi applaud Dawn and Mark. "At least she didn't do away with the babies, and she is not one of these single mums," says a woman sitting in her doorway to catch a last bit of the sun before it disappears over the rooftops. "A lot of them that say they're scroungers are living off the state themselves - most people are around here these days. I hope everything works out for her."

"Some people are calling me a scrounger behind my back, but they haven't actually said anything to me at all," says Dawn. "It is very hurtful because my mother-in-law is paying taxes, my brother-in-law is working, and so, too, is my brother.

"I was worried about what people would say more than anything, because I knew I was more than capable of looking after the children. People could be nasty to me, but I don't care; they're not perfect themselves and I'm happy."

But hasn't responsibility come too early? Doesn't she regret missing out on teenage life?

"No, I don't have any regrets, because I know I've got my life ahead of me now. Once the babes are grown up, I can have my life then. I have got it all to come, really - I'll only be 28."

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Energy Markets Analyst

    £400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

    Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    Nursery Manager

    £22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

    Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week