MOST of us take our mums for granted – they cook, clean and care for us without expecting any thanks.
But Marsden man Joe Whitehead knows his mum Dawn is one in a million and thinks it’s about time everyone knew about it.
Joe, 21, penned a touching letter to the Examiner about the dedication of his mum, who raised him and his brothers – Lee, 22 and 19-year-old Wayne – alone after splitting from her husband.
He said: “My mum has coped so well by herself. It has never been easy for her but she has done the best she can.
“I just want to say, Mum, that you are one in a million and we love you so much. Thank you ever so much for being a brilliant mum.”
To provide for her sons, 42-year-old Dawn has worked six days a week at Marsden clothing store Cellar Scene, which is owned by her brother Adam Byram.
But despite a busy work life, Joe says his mum has always been there for him and his brothers.
For the first 10 years of his life, Joe suffered problems with his ears and was in and out of hospital.
He had an operation to remove a piece of bone from his left ear, which has left him partly deaf.
He also suffers from learning difficulties and was bullied at school because of this.
But he knew he could always rely on the support of his mum. He said: “She was always there, telling me everything was going to be OK.”
Joe, who works for his uncle Stephen Byram at his construction company SB Homes, said his mum is also a big help to the rest of her family.
When her father, Frank Byram, died of a sudden heart attack in January, she was devastated, but put her feelings aside to support her mother, Mary.
She stayed at her mother’s house in Marsden for three weeks, sorting out arrangements and helping her to adjust to life without her husband of 49 years.
Joe said he admired his mother’s strength at a difficult time. “She found it tough but she still looked out for my grandma.”
Dawn, 42, said her father’s death had been a shock to her and her eight siblings.
She said: “It was really sudden. He was in the garden and just collapsed. Up until a week before he was riding a bike. No-one knew there was anything wrong. He was only 74.
“My parents had run away when they were 16 to get married at Gretna Green and had been together 49 years. It was hard for my mum, after being together so long. We are a very close family and help each other.
“My brothers have helped me a lot with my house. You don’t think about it, you just do it.”
Dawn still finds a little time for herself by playing football for Kirklees Ladies. She has played as a defender for the team for 10 years.
She said: “It keeps me fit and I enjoy it. The boys like me playing it too because I was able to have a kickabout with them.”
Dawn said she was surprised by Joe’s letter and was moved to tears when she read it.
“I started crying. As a mum, you do jobs for your sons and they don’t really say thank you all the time. But when they write something like that, you know they appreciate what you do, even if they don’t say anything.”