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Let’s stop demonising Coronation Street’s Leanne – she’s a mum losing a child

(Picture: ITV)

Until we are in a situation, we can never know how we will respond – but there’s one thing that every mother across the globe will agree with and that is the bond between her and her child is the most powerful feeling in the world.

The love between a mum and her baby is so strong it can physically hurt – so the wrench of having to face up to losing that child comes with unimaginable pain and agony.

That’s why I am not here for the tearing down of Coronation Street’s Leanne Battersby, played sublimely by the wonderful Jane Danson.

Jane has proven across her career how strong she is as an actress but no storyline carries more weight, power or responsibility than Leanne’s journey as she fights to try, without success, to save her beloved young son in his mitochondrial disease battle.

As viewers, we are in a position where we know the outcome is not good and that Leanne is fighting a battle she will lose. We were put into the picture from the start of the storyline as it is understandably triggering and a hard watch.

In viewers’ minds, they have known all along that Oliver’s fate with this cruel disease was a tragic one. But Jane is playing a mother – someone who grew this child and has raised him, with hopes of seeing him start school, go on a first proper holiday, have tantrums, become a teenager, get his first love, grow up and everything else.

No mother or father can ever prepare themselves for the prospect of outliving their child – especially when their child dies young. And any mother would instinctively fight against any odds when told that there is nothing that can be done.

It’s news that is impossible to bear – soul destroying but also something that psychologically must be impossible to comprehend.

So to any viewers who think Leanne is getting a bit ‘annoying’ or that she is being ‘harsh’ on those around her, I would ask – how would you handle her situation? Unless you have been there, you simply do not know.

Leanne’s journey is agonising and there can not be a pain close to that of losing a child. So yes, Leanne is being unreasonable with those trying to help and yes, if logic were in play, she would know and accept what doctors are telling her.

But logic is nowhere near as powerful as love – and we need to stop demonising a woman, a mother, for showing irrational and extreme emotion considering what she is facing. My gut tells me I would be like Leanne or even worse – and it also tells me that any woman or mother tearing her down on Twitter or moaning that she is ‘moody’ would be too.

Moody? What she is enduring is life changing and soul destroying.

I, of course, don’t know. It’s conjecture based on my experiences with families and with family psychology.

Liz Curtis is the co-founder of The Lily Foundation and she campaigns for funding and awareness of mitochondrial disease in the wake of losing her daughter Lily.

She explained to Metro.co.uk: ‘When your child is dying you are not thinking rationally.  I remember very clearly thinking that we could take Lily to China for stem cell treatment and I totally thought that all of my family would sell their houses to raise the cash. 

‘It didn’t cross my mind that they wouldn’t.  For me saving Lily was all that mattered.  However saying all of this, being a parent and being a mum, you know when it is time to let go.  As hard as it is.  The absolutely most difficult decision we have ever, ever had to make was when we knew when Lily had had enough and that she could fight no more.’

It’s a decision Leanne will soon make in Coronation Street and Liz has worked with the show and with Jane on scripts, performances and insight into the tragic situation.

And there is no undermining the gravity of a decision from a mother who feels like she is being forced to give up on her child. It’s a long process of acceptance and Leanne is only part way through.

Impatience with it shows a sad lack of understanding of the issue – and hits home exactly why Coronation Street is right to bring this storyline to the fore, play it out properly and with full honesty and raise awareness of what anyone who is criticising Leanne would find just as hard to deal with as she – and all the real life mums and dads – are.

If everyone who watched Coronation Street donated just £1 to the campaign of The Lily Foundation, they would raise £6 million – that would make a life changing difference for research, treatment and support.

If you’ve got a soap or TV story, video or pictures get in touch by emailing us soaps@metro.co.uk – we’d love to hear from you.

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