A mum who battled homelessness and chronic depression is speaking out to thank her ‘amazing’ neighbours who saved her family’s Christmas – and her life.
Caroline Stokes, aged 36, has contacted The Star to thank neighbours Kay and John Moore for their ‘unfaltering support’ during a troubled few years.
Not only did the couple buy the family-of-six a brand-new oven when their Christmas was set for ruin – Kay even managed to talk Caroline from the brink of taking her own life.
Caroline said the couple have lent the family money in hard times, let them use their caravan for holidays and ‘have always been a shoulder to cry on’.
She said: “Kay and John are truly amazing people. I have told them lots of times how grateful I am, but it never seems enough.
“They have been there for my family 24/7, no matter how bad things have been. That’s why I wanted to surprise them with a special thank you in The Star.
“We are so lucky to have them in our lives.”
Caroline said the family was evicted from their home in 2009 after falling behind with the mortgage, due to the fact she had deep vein thrombosis and could not work.
After a brief spell of homelessness, the family was put into a temporary accommodation in Gleadless.
But things did not improve drastically. Caroline said: “It was a nightmare. Our neighbours were smoking drugs outside our house and we lived in constant fear.”
In 2012, the family was given a council house in Lowedges. Despite being happier in the new house, Caroline started to be trolled online over a support group she had launched.
Amid the constant abuse, Caroline slipped into a deep depression.
She said: “In September last year, everything got too much and I decided to take my own life.
“But that morning, Kay noticed I wasn’t myself and came across for a chat. Initially, I told her I was fine, but she knew different and I eventually told her.
“We talked about anything, everything and nothing in particular until the early hours – just to keep my mind occupied.”
She added: “I do not know what my life would be like without John and Kay – I probably wouldn’t even be here.”
If that wasn’t enough, the couple also saved Christmas for Caroline, wife Michelle, and children Gabrielle, 19, Krystelle, 16, Elli-May, 14, and Becksley, four.
Caroline said: “Our oven broke before Christmas and I had no money to buy a new one.
“I asked Kay if could cook some food in her oven, which we could microwave for Christmas day.
“She said it was fine, but the next day they bought us a new oven. I tried to offer them money for it, but they refused.”
Caroline added: “People that go to these sort of lengths to help neighbours are very rare.
“I want them both to know that they mean the world to my family.”