Annette Kerridge and her family
Annette Kerridge and her family CONTRIBUTED

Happy gran's huge clan of 15 children, 100 grandchildren

If it weren't for a case of mistaken identity, Annette Kerridge's 15 children, 54 grandchildren and 55 great-grandchildren might not exist.

"Our family knew some people who rode motorbikes, and one of them was a redhead," she said.

"One day, this bike went flying past my house with this person with red hair on the back, and I called out, thinking it was our friend. When they motorcycle turned back, it was Donald," Annette said.

Annette and Donald would marry within a year, but those were stricter times.

While Annette and Donald's first date to the movies might seem normal enough by modern standards, teenagers these days might not be so pleased at the thought of being fully chaperoned.

"We met up at the theatre and the first movie that we saw was 'Gone with the Wind,' but my neighbour had to come with us," she said.

Annette Kerridge has 15 kids and over 100 grand kids and great grand kids.
Annette Kerridge has 15 kids and over 100 grand kids and great grand kids. Cordell Richardson

After they married, their first child Arthur arrived when Annette was 16. Glen, Cheryl, Debbie, Karen, Brenda, Kathy, Christine, Wendy, Julie, Rhonda, Missy, Sandra, Matthew and Bonnie followed, with Bonnie arriving in the same week that eldest daughter Cheryl was in the same hospital having her first baby.

With so many names to remember, it's no wonder that one of Annette's memories of parenting is saying multiple names before managing to say which child she was calling.

"You'd be looking at somebody and calling out somebody else's name, then they would say mum, that's not me," she said.

As for why the Kerridge clan is so big, Annette's reason is simple.

"I just love kids, and I loved having them," she said.

"It actually helped, having such a large family. As the first ones got older, they helped with the little ones."

In a world before smartphones and binge-watching, Annette's techniques for keeping so many kids happy and healthy included plenty of weekend activities, quality time and taking trips down the coast in a HiAce bus.

"The kids could play out in the street every afternoon, and then as soon as you called them in to tea, they came in. They didn't have any of these video games and things like that. They made up their own games," she said.

Also playing a vital role was her late husband Donald, who was a supportive partner and looked after the kids when she was visiting her 'second home,' the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital maternity ward.

"The hospital would say to me, see you again next year," she said.

"Nah you won't see me again,' I'd say, but there I was again the next year or the year after."

Now a source of joy and support, Annette's kids have surprised her with hot-air balloon rides, trips overseas and support during medical procedures.

"They're always taking me out somewhere. This year on Mother's Day, Kathy and Julie took me to Toowoomba to a little restaurant, then for a wander around the chocolate factory," she said.

"When one of my daughters got married she did it in Thailand, and organised my airfare and my accommodation over there, too."

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