Gemma Oaten: How my mum's unconditional love shaped me as a pet parent
In honour of Mother’s Day, Poppy’s Picnic has teamed up with our ambassador and soap star, Gemma Oaten, to highlight the special role mothers play not only in human lives, but also how much joy our four-legged friends can bring to pet parents. In this first part of our two part blog series, Gemma opens up about her relationship with her mum, Marg and how her mum’s unconditional love has enabled her to be an amazing dog mummy to Ruby Tuesday:
To me, every day should be Mother’s Day because of the most loving and generous woman I get to call mum. She is the most inspiring woman I have ever met, her kindness and heart blow me away and she has taught me to always be considerate and to always be proud of who I am, even when I’ve doubted myself. She has always told me, “You’re a mother before you’re a mother, Gem” because I have always been so maternal and good with children. This reflects on how I am with my Schnoodle, Ruby Tuesday. Ruby is my baby and I have given her the best from day one. I’m proud to feed her a BARF diet of Poppy’s Picnic raw dog food because I understand myself just how important getting the right nutrition is. To have friends or even strangers tell me how good, friendly and wonderful she is means I’ve done right by her.
My mum, Marg, is my rock. She gave me life and she saved my life. I was very poorly for 13 years from the age of 10 years old with anorexia and if it wasn’t for her and dad’s fight for me, I wouldn’t be here today. She has always supported and loved me, no matter what. What we all went through back then made our bond even stronger, so I never look back and regret, but I do owe everything I have achieved to her and want to make her proud of the woman I am today, especially because of the heartache we went through.
Back when I was very ill, my mum decided that no family should have to go through what we did, alone. At the time there weren’t many support services available, and every day was a fight to get the right care for me. Because of that, my mum decided to set up a charity called SEED (Support and Empathy for Eating Disorders). Even though she was going through the pain of my anorexia, she still wanted to give her time to help others. What started as a single helpline in our living room, is now a nationwide and internationally known charity. We have a resource centre in Hull where we run a drop-in scheme, support groups for carers and sufferers, email buddy scheme, and carer workshops. Just recently, we both filmed an educational toolkit to raise awareness of eating disorders in schools too. It’s mind-blowing what she has done, truly.
In 2010, my mum was awarded an MBE by the Queen and I have never been prouder. I have been a patron of SEED for the last 8 years now as I had decided that once I was better, I wanted to give back. I hope I can follow in her footsteps and help as many people as she has. My dad works tirelessly for SEED alongside my Mum and many others too, it’s something we are all so passionate about.
Having had positive feedback from so many people saying how the charity has helped them in their own battles is overwhelming. That is why I am also extremely grateful to Dylan and Poppy’s Picnic for their donation and support to SEED this Mother’s Day as I know it will continue to help more people in the future.
Should you, or anyone you know need support with an eating disorder, SEED is there for you. You can find more information here.
Click here to read the next part of the blog series to find out more about Gemma’s special bond with her gorgeous Schnoodle, Ruby Tuesday, and here to shop Poppy’s Picnic fresh, raw dog food.