Parents-of-22 The Radfords reveal the secret that nearly ended their marriage & almost left them bankrupt

BRITAIN’S biggest family were back on our TV screens tonight, with the ninth episode of the third series of their hit show, 22 Kids & Counting.

Sue Radford and her husband Noel, have 22 children, nine grand-children and seven dogs.

In tonight’s episode of 22 Kids & Counting, Sue and Noel Radford took a trip down memory laneCredit: Channel 5
They visited the church they got married in, their first home and revealed the secret that almost ended their marriage and left them bankruptCredit: Channel 5
Reflecting on one of the hardest times of their life, the couple opened up about their previous debts and the stress it causedCredit: Channel 5

Last year the family had their busiest year to date, but this year is sure to be full of more challenges and tribulations. 

In their new series, they’re facing a wave of super-sized family dramas, unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before.

In tonight’s special episode to celebrate the couple’s 30th wedding anniversary, the pair took a trip down memory lane, to remember the highs and lows of their life so far.  

Spanning three decades, Sue and Noel visited the people and places that have shaped and affected them the most. 

The unofficial King and Queen of Morecambe headed off in their motorhome and their first destination was the Lake District, where they met and married.

They headed to the church where they said their vows and met up with Sue’s two bridesmaids, Sue and Lorraine.

One of Sue’s friends noted: “They were made for each other, definitely. There’s a lot of love there.”

The couple looked at the Church and reminisced on their special day, before browsing their wedding photos. 

Noel claimed: “It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago to be honest.” 

The wedding was a dream but the couple had to deal with a lot of comments about their relationship. 

One of Sue’s close friends said: “There were a lot of people that were negative about Sue being a really young mum and people always whispering behind her back and everything else.”

Another added: “She dealt with it. She had the support of her friends, the ones that really mattered, and we helped her through it.” 

Sue then explained: “It was hard, but there were quite a few of my friends that didn’t bother after that.

“A young mum, still at school… a lot of people said ‘they won’t last.” 

On their next stop, the couple travelled to the venue where they had their wedding reception.

The couple discussed the drunken antics of their post-wedding party, when Noel had perhaps one too many drinks.

Sue noted: “I’ve got visions of you now hugging the toilet while you slept.”

For the next stop, the couple visited their first house that they got together.

As they pulled up, Sue beamed: “Noel, it’s not changed at all.” 

The couple explained that when they bought the house, back in 1991, they had a very tight budget.

Noel explained: “The rent was £19.50, it was bearable, we got by but we couldn’t afford to buy furniture.”

The couple then revisited the site of their first business, which nearly ended their marriage and left them bankrupt. 

Noel trained as a baker and in 1999 he took a risk and invested in a bakery and sandwich shop in a small parade near Morecambe.

In the early days, Sue pitched in to help where she could and the business had its ups and downs, but in 2001, Noel and Sue made the worst decision of their lives, as they invested in a prime high-street location.

The couple wanted to expand their blossoming pie business and so took out a huge loan.

But Noel explained that things didn’t go to plan and the bakery, is now a mobile phone shop.

He revealed: “I hate this place. To start with it did well and then foot and mouth hit the country and I think Cumbria was one of the worst affected areas and it just killed the tourism.” 

Foot traffic dried up and within months, their dream came crashing down, as Sue highlighted: “It was such a nightmare, I can’t even describe it, it caused so much stress.

“You would go to bed thinking about the debt, wake up thinking about the debt, wake up in the night thinking about the debt. 

“If anything would have caused us to get a divorce, it was this shop. 

“Looking back now, it was a time where I genuinely thought our marriage would not pull through. We’d get divorced and that would be it. It was absolutely awful.”

Noel then chimed in: “It was the worst thing I ever did. It seemed good at the time. But I hate standing here. I hate it.”

Sue responded: “Looking back, I think you have to go through those things because they do make you stronger. We were quite young then, we took on way too much.” 

Aside from business,  the couple share 22 children together and Sue spent more than 16 years pregnant.

The couple then reflected on Alfie, their 17th child, who sadly died.

Reflecting on their stillborn son Alfie, Noel said: “It’s definitely something we talk about – Alfie. The kids come with us when we go to see his grave.” 

Discussing the difficult situation, Sue added: “It’s the worst thing I think we’d ever been through.” 

The couple then took a visit to Alfie’s grave, as they looked through Alfie’s memory box.

They then laid flowers on his grave and Sue said: “Especially since losing Alfie, you do realise that stillbirths, they happen. It’s something that should definitely be spoken about a lot more as well.

“I think sometimes, what makes it worse, is you never have a reason why. It’s hard.” 

But 30 years later and with 22 children, Noel and Sue recognised that they have a lot to appreciate. 

Sue continued: “Having a big family is amazing. Watching our children grow up together and the bonds that they share, I don’t think it gets any better than that.” 

Noel then confirmed: “This is what it’s about, the family. We’re as happy as Larry surrounded by these lot.”

Sue and Noel explored the church where they said their vowsCredit: Channel 5
The couple then visited their 17th child, Alfie’s graveCredit: Channel 5