Bravest Man In Britain? - Daily Mail newspaper- Exclusive real-life story- ***November 2010***



Craig Le Sauvage contacted us because he was due to marry a woman he had got pregnant who already had 15 children her previous husband.


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The bravest man in Britain? Expectant dad about to marry a woman who has FIFTEEN children with the husband she's just divorced

Daily Mail newspaper

To look at Joanne Watson, you would never guess she was almost five months ­pregnant with her 16th child.

She totters around in her high-heeled boots and size 4 skinny jeans, her make-up just so and not a hair out of place.

She pulls up her chiffon blouse to reveal a very neat little bump and a brown expanse of taut skin with not a hint of a stretch mark.

She looks at me as if I am slightly mad when I ask why she isn't a bit more, well, ragged round the edges.

'I don't feel any different when I'm pregnant,' says a bemused Joanne, 39, sitting in her neat-as-a-pin four-bedroomed home in Guernsey.

'I just get on with it. It's no big deal. I just bounce back. I really enjoy pregnancy and have loads of energy. I'm never tired.'

Besides, as Joanne explains, she never puts on more than a stone when she's expecting a baby and simply pings back to her normal 7st weight after the birth — a bit like all those celebrity yummy mummies.

Joanne, however, manages to do this on a diet liberally sprinkled with crisps and chocolate and without the help of a personal trainer or so much as seeing the inside of a gym.

How on earth does she juggle looking so ­effortlessly glamorous with the exhausting demands of such a large brood — the youngest of whom are just four, three and 22 months old?

She gives me another rather ­disconcerting 'what are you talking about?' looks. Thirty-five packed lunches a week? So what. Fifty-six ­laundry washes a month? No problem. Endless nappies? Used to them. Squabbling children? Yes. And? 'I'm very organised,' she says.

Only this time, her 16th pregnancy is rather different. For starters, all her children are blonde and she is expecting this one to be dark-haired when he or she is born in March next year. You see, it turns out there has been a dramatic change of personnel on the domestic fro

For Joanne split from her husband, John, 45, two years ago when she was seven months' pregnant with their youngest child, Indianna.

She'd spent almost half of their 22-year ­marriage pregnant and regularly appeared in the papers, under the title Supermum, posing with a proud John and their ­strikingly ­attractive children.

But, behind the veneer of their seemingly happy family life, all was not well and there were bitter rows.

John worked all hours as a haulier and both of them felt increasingly neglected by the other. She claims he started drinking too much as their marriage unravelled - an ­accusation he denies.

When their relationship finally­ ­collapsed in 2008, Joanne thought baby Indianna would be her last and resigned herself to life as a rather busy single parent and grandparent to her ­eldest daughters' two sons.

Then, in June, she started a ­relationship with leisure centre events co-ordinator Craig Le ­Sauvage, 34, who was her next-door neighbour 15 years ago when she was the young mother of a mere four children.

It was only meant to be a casual ­summer romance.

Well, that's what he thought, ­anyway. But three weeks after their first date, Joanne was - to her ­surprise and his stunned shock - pregnant again.

Today, they are engaged and Craig is not only ­looking forward to ­becoming a father for the first time, but facing the ­daunting prospect of becoming stepdad to Joanne's ­enormous brood.

So who could blame Craig for ­having the look of a ­rabbit trapped in the headlights as he sits down next to his future wife to talk for the first time of this momentous turn in his fortunes?

Few men, no matter how much in love, would relish the thought of a £1,340 monthly family food bill when used to catering for just the one.

Or, indeed, be willing to take on so many children whose loyalties may remain with their father. But Craig insists he is up to the ­challenge. This, despite the fact he is not yet living with Joanne and has absolutely no idea what he is ­letting himself in for.

A born-again Christian, Craig is not intending to move in with Joanne — and the 11 children still living at home — until they are married. ­

Hopefully, the wedding will be before the birth, because he wants their child to be born in wedlock.

It's quite some learning curve and he listens very intently as Joanne ­rattles off the names of her children. There's Natasha, 21, Bradley, 20, and Shanice, 18, who have now left home.

Then there's Mariah, 15, Georgia, 13, Caitlin, 11, Brittany, 10, Febrianne, nine, Charlie, eight, Lilly-Arna, seven, Nerilly-Jade, six, Armani, four, ­Tallulah, three, and Indianna, 22 months. Joanne's fourth child ­Augustina was born prematurely and died 20 hours after her birth.

And did we mention that Natasha has a five-year-old son, while ­Shanice's son is 14 months old? Craig will become step-grandfather to them, too. Quite an undertaking and not one Craig ever envisaged.

'When I first met Joanne 15 years ago, when she lived next door to me, I used to think how good-looking she was and what a lovely figure she had,' says Craig.

'Then, this year, when she started to come to the leisure centre where I work, I'd stop and say hello. I was struck by how good she still looked. One evening she flagged me down in the car park as I was about to drive home and blurted out: "Are you with anyone?' When I said "no', she replied: "Well, when are you going to ask me out for a drink?' I took her phone number and texted her the next day.

'I'd always found her attractive. I knew she had lots of kids because I'd read about her and I'd heard she had split up from her husband.

'To be honest, in the beginning, I thought it would just be a casual ­relationship, nothing serious, so it came as a complete shock when she told me she was pregnant after just three weeks.

'At first, I was a bit embarrassed and worried about what people would say. But I've come round to the idea now. Joanne's a lovely person and a very good mother, which is important to me because I had an unhappy childhood and was never close to my mum.

'I just thought: "If I'm happy, what does it matter what other people think?'

'We haven't been together long, but I do love her very much. Now, I can't imagine life without her. I feel ­something special with her.'

Craig proposed to Joanne earlier this month, three days after her divorce was finalised, by dangling her over the harbour railings at St Peter Port and jokingly threatening to drop her in the sea unless she said yes.

So he must be pretty serious.

'Of course, I'm nervous about ­becoming a stepfather to so many ­children, but they are great kids and I am not trying to replace their father. They already have a dad, so I am just ­looking for acceptance and ­friendship,' he says.

Joanne, flashing a sapphire and ­diamond engagement ring, adds: 'When Craig lived next door all those years ago, I always thought what a nice person he was and how well he treated his girlfriend. He was very kind, ­treating her as an equal.

'When I saw him again at the leisure centre, I thought: "He's cute.' So when I spotted him in the car park I acted on impulse, running over and flagging him down. I never thought it would lead to this. I was shocked when I got ­pregnant because it wasn't planned. I'd had an operation in February to remove fibroids and thought I wouldn't be able to conceive so easily again, but I knew the minute I was, even though I wasn't yet late with my period.

'I developed a spot on my nose and I only ever get spots when I'm ­pregnant. When I phoned Craig to tell him, he said: "Are you mad?' But I knew. A few days later, he came round with a pregnancy test and after a nice meal we went upstairs together to find out for certain.'

Craig continues: 'My heart lurched with shock. I did find it all a bit daunting and it took me a while to accept the situation.

'I told Joanne I thought it would be best if we split up because of how people talk and Joanne offered to have a ­termination, if that was what I wanted. But, after a while, I came around. I didn't want her to have an abortion, as I don't agree with it. I ­realised I wanted to have a baby with Joanne and for us to be a ­couple.

'In fact, if she'd told me she didn't want any more children, I probably would have dropped her.'

All well and good, but what of Joanne's children? One minute their mother was single, the next she not only had a new boyfriend but was expecting his baby. She is also ­bringing into their lives a man who admits he's had a ­troubled past.

Craig says his ­abusive childhood, at the hands of his late mother Elaine, led him in the past to dabble with drugs. He spent two terms in prison ­during his youth for drugs ­possession and theft, but says he's not touched drugs since ­undergoing ­rehabilitation six years ago with the Lighthouse Foundation, a Christian charity which helps drug abusers.

He says he has completely turned his life around. Craig doesn't like to dwell on the past, but it's been widely reported that his older brother was convicted in 2007 for the manslaughter of their mother Elaine on the grounds of ­diminished responsibility.

The court heard he was suffering from mental illness when he ­strangled the 49-year-old; like Craig, he claimed she was abusive.

Joanne knows all this but appears to have absolutely no concerns about Craig's suitability as a step-parent.

'Everyone has a past, ­no one's ­perfect, we all have skeletons in the cupboard,' she says blithely.

'Craig is a kind, gentle person who has overcome whatever ­problems he has had. What I do know is he treats me with respect, makes me laugh and is wonderful with my children.

'He is the first man I have ever brought home since my marriage ended and my kids really like and get on well with him. He is not their dad; they already have a dad and Craig would never want to replace him.'

'The first time my daughter Mariah met him, she looked up from her ­laptop and gave me a thumbs up when Craig wasn't ­looking. Not one of my children has said they don't like him.'

Indeed, as we are talking, Joanne's eldest son Bradley, a professional boxer, wanders in and appears to have a relaxed, amiable ­relationship with his stepfather-to-be.

'I'm happy if my mum's happy,' he says, before adding: 'Craig's OK.'

These days Joanne and her ­ex-­husband John try to remain ­amicable for the sake of the ­children, but she accepts he was desperately upset and angry when she ended the ­marriage.

Recently, she and Craig met up with John and his new ­girlfriend and the event passed without argument, despite obvious tension.

'Right up until our divorce, John was trying to get back with me, to persuade me to have another baby,' says Joanne, who is, unsurprisingly, a full-time mother. 'Looking back, I think for John having babies was his way of trying to bring us closer and paper over the cracks in our relationship.

'I was happy to go along with it because I love being pregnant and having children.'

John last night told the Mail he desperately wanted his marriage to work so that they could remain a family and was initially devastated and furious when his wife ended the relationship, before then becoming pregnant by Craig.

'We were together for 22 years and I worked 24/7 to support my family because I loved my wife and kids. Joanne is one-in-a-million and a ­brilliant mother, but over time ­something happened to cause our love to break down.

'I thought it could be repaired, but she didn't,' he says.

'When I found out she was ­pregnant again, I felt so hurt because deep down I still loved her and felt the baby should be mine. Now, I have come to terms with it. I have a new partner and life has moved on.

'Craig seems a nice guy and I know Joanne loves him. If they get ­married, I'll take my hat off to him for taking on such a large family.

'When I went round there last ­Sunday and saw all my kids ­climbing over him and laughing I did feel upset, but it's better they are happy with him than not.

'I hope Joanne and Craig will be happy together and I wish them well, but I am my children's father and I will always be.'

So, a new baby. Number one for Craig, but number 16 for Joanne.

She knows what to expect, but does he?


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