THEY have defied the odds!

And now a Colne Valley couple are celebrating the birth of identical triplets.

Matthew Collins and partner Leanne Chambers, who live in Milnsbridge, are the proud parents of new arrivals Scarlett, Lilly and Evie.

The babies were born at Leeds General Infirmary’s special care baby unit four weeks early at just 34 weeks.

Scarlett weighed in at 4lbs 7oz with Evie at 4lbs and Lilly at 3lbs 9oz.

Matthew, 32, a self-employed plasterer, said: “We understand it is very rare for identical triplets be born without fertility treatment.

“The consultant said she had never come across it before in her whole career. It is a real miracle.”

The babies were born on April 15 by pre-arranged caesarean.

They were cared for on the special care baby unit, but did not need to be in incubators. They spent the first few days in hospital on feeding tubes before they were able to bottle feed.

Giving birth to identical triplets is an event that only happens in about one in every 150,000 pregnancies.

They are created when either a single fertilised egg divides into three, or when one embryo splits into two to form identical twin embryos, and then one of these divides again.

Leanne, who is a hairdresser at her mother’s hair salon, said: “We were travelling twice a day to Leeds to see them, but they progressed very well and as soon as they were completely on bottle feeds they were able to come home.”

Matthew and Leanne have two other children, seven-year-old Georgia and Lewis, three.

Matthew said: “Georgia and Lewis love them to bits. Lewis is playing up a bit, but that’s because he’s no longer the centre of attention.

“The babies are fine and are settling in. They kept us awake the first night because we have put them in separate Moses baskets when they were used to being in the same cot in hospital.

“I suppose we’ll have more sleepless nights to come.”

He added: “In hospital we had to give them different hats as a way of telling them apart!

“We still have problems telling who’s who – although Lily is definitely the smallest. Having said that, she has got the biggest lungs out of the three!”

Leanne praised staff at the hospital, saying: “We cannot thank them enough. They went out of their way for us and they were always helpful.”

The new arrivals mean it’s a full house at the couple’s three-bedroom home – and they can expect an expensive time to come.

Leanne’s mum, Julie Earnshaw, has already come up with ways to raise cash to help pay for items, including a three-seat stroller for summer walks.

Julie, who owns The Salon in Slaithwaite, is organising a fundraising day for the triplets on Sunday at the Coach and Horses pub, Manchester Road, Linthwaite.

The event will include a charity car wash, a raffle and a barbecue. The fun gets under way at 11am.

Julie will be joined in the car wash by salon staff members Amanda Hirst, Lyndsay Fretwell, Sophie Maude and Kath Sanderson as well as other friends.

Matthew and Leanne expect the pub to be packed with family and friends. And they hope their little “miracles” will be making an appearance, too.