Two inspirational young carers have captured hearts around the nation as they look after their mothers, who suffer from severe mental and physical health conditions.
Ariel Merry, 11, and Leo Tampin, 12, who care for their mothers, Christine and Marie, appeared on This Morning hosted by Holly Willoughby and Josie Gibson on Monday.
Ariel’s mother Christine is an army veteran who was diagnosed with PTSD after a tour in Afghanistan, which has had a serious impact on her mental health.
Meanwhile Leo and his older stepbrother Mason care for Marie who lives with both epilepsy and anxiety after being involved in a car crash.
As the young carers told their stories on the ITV show, viewers praised the ‘wonderful’ children for their hard work – and many thought they did a better job than most adults.
Speaking about her mental health diagnosis, Christine said: ‘In 2018, I had a massive depressive episode at work, there was a loud bang and I felt I had to dive under the desk.
‘It was then, at that moment, I realised I couldn’t CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) my way out of it.’
Ariel explained she doesn’t like being called a carer but prefers the word teammate as it seems ‘more loyal’ towards her mother.
She said: ‘I am always there to give my mum a cuddle or check that she is ok, I can tell when certain things are off by the way she’s breathing, so I’m always there to say ”are you ok” and to take her out of certain situations if it’s too stressful.
This Morning viewers gushed over inspirational young carers who are looking after their mums who have been diagnosed PTSD and epilepsy (pictured Ariel Merry, 11, (left) who has been looking after her mum Christine)
While 12-year-old Leo who cares for his mum Marie Tampin, who has epilepsy and anxiety, and his older step brother Mason, who suffers long term side effects after being involved in a car crash, also told his inspiring story
‘If it’s too stressful I can give my mum a cuddle and say, ”it’s ok we can do this together” and I’ll try take away the stress.’
Christine said she was ‘borderline agoraphobic’ when Ariel was just six-years-old, meaning she had a fear of leaving the house and going outside.
She added her daughter would have to hold a sick bowl in the car for her mother when she was dropping her to school.
Ariel said: ‘I don’t dwell on things that are bad, yeah, what has happened to us isn’t the best but I think about all the good things that have happened and all the progress we have made.’
Elsewhere, Marie revealed she was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2019 after she suffered the unusual symptom of ‘smelling burning everywhere’.
She said: ‘At first they weren’t sure if it was a brain tumour, which was very scary, eventually they found it was epilepsy, they found so many scars on my brain that they believe I have had it since birth.’
This Morning viewers rushed to X, formerly known as Twitter, to leave their thoughts
12-year-old Leo, who cares for his mother, can sense when she is about to have a seizure and makes sure she is safe.
He said: ‘I make everything soft with pillows, make sure there is nothing hard so she can’t hurt herself.
Leo spoke about one frightening time when he found his mother in the bath having an epileptic fit – and likely saved her life.
He said: ‘I heard splashing so I went in, and I saw she was having a fit, so I put her head above the water and then I pulled the plug to make sure that she wouldn’t drown.’
Leo also cares for his older stepbrother Mason, who suffers long term side effects after being involved in a car crash.
Ariel explained she doesn’t like being called a carer but prefers the word teammate as it seems ‘more loyal’
Christine, (left) who served with the army in Afghanistan , was formally diagnosed with PTSD when she came home because of her experience
12-year-old Leo who cares for his mum can sense when she is about to have a seizure and he makes sure she is safe
Marie said: ‘We were told to expect the worst, St Mary’s [hospital] were amazing and they asked us to bring his sibling up and he was eight at the time.
‘I was thinking, “I can’t ask him to say goodbye to his brother at eight years old”, but they were amazing they got him to check the tubes and put water on his lips and he thought he was making him better.’
There are more than 800,000 young carers in the UK, who help to look after and support their loved ones.
After watching Ariel and Leo’s stories on the This Morning sofa, viewers praised the young carers on Twitter.
One person wrote: ‘Wonderful young people – picking up the slack from Adult Social ‘care’.
Another said: ‘These young carers put many adults to shame.’
However, one person, who expressed concern for the young carers, said: ‘Obviously if a parent has a disability family members will help and support but to make children official ‘carers’ is wrong.’
They argued: ‘It’s called ‘parentification’ and can have long term emotional repercussions.’