A MOTHER-of-nine gave her family the ‘best present ever’ when she was allowed home for Christmas Day just two weeks after suffering a massive brain haemorrhage.

Wendy Withington, 42, was left fighting for life in a coma after collapsing at home in Rome Avenue, Burnley, on December 11.

She is being treated in the intensive care unit at Royal Preston Hospital.

Her husband John said doctors had told him that his wife’s haemorrhage was ‘the worst of its kind we have ever seen’.

But doctors were so encouraged by her progress she was allowed home to spend a few hours with her six daughters and three sons, aged between 24 and two, on Christmas Day.

She has now returned to hospital to continue her recovery.

Mrs Withington, who had no previous health problems, suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma after having corrective brain surgery, but remarkably in the days before Christmas, gradually regained consciousness.

She is still unable to communicate but has been able to receive visits from her children and is now able to sit up outside her bed to greet them.

Her husband John, 38, who is known to Burnley fans as he paints his whole head Claret and Blue, said: “It’s been a terrible, heartbreaking time for our family.

“Wendy was at home when she became ill. It came out of the blue.

“The emergency services were fantastic. She was being treated in hospital within and hour of collapsing.

“She was in a coma for five days and we were all frantic with worry, willing her to get better.

“One of her doctors took me aside at around 4am and told me it was the worst haemorrage of its kind that he had seen.

“I’ve been visiting every day with Wendy’s dad, Bill and we were joyful went she began to come round. She’s just so strong and courageous.

“She will battle as hard as she can to get back to her beloved kids.”

Mrs Withington’s illness has meant a bleak lead up to Christmas, but the unexpected visit brought hope and comfort to the family.

“All nine of the children just wanted their mum here at Christmas, it’s been upsetting for them,” said John.

“I’ve tried to explain to the little ones that Christmas is just one day and that mum’s getting a little better but they don’t really understand.

“To have Wendy here with us was the best and only present for us all.

“It looks like being well into the New Year before she comes home for good and she will then face many challenges to recover.”

John, who is involved with Clarets Creative, also paid tribute to his friends and neighbours who have rallied round to support the family.

“People have been brilliant, our friends have been so supportive and neighbours have been great, going out of their way to help us with shopping and looking in on the children.

“I can’t find the words to express my thanks to all the people who are helping us and keeping Wendy in their thoughts.”