GIRL-POWER is keeping this family strong after tragedy and heartache.
Little Ellie Turnbull will one day need a transplant after she was born with kidney and bowel failure.
The six-year-old depends on mum Gemma and big sister Caitlyn to keep her spirits up as she attends one hospital appointment after another.
Born 12 weeks premature and weighing just 2lbs, the Ryhope Infants School pupil spent the first 12 weeks of her life in hospital.
But with the love and support from her big sister and mum, she is now doing well and proving a true fighter.
Now Ellie and Caitlyn, 13, have nominated Gemma for the Echo’s I Love Mum competition as thanks for “staying strong” through all the tough times.
Caitlyn, a Thornhill School pupil, said: “No matter how hard things get, she always does her best.”
Life has not always been easy for Gemma, 30.
Although her two girls bring her joy every day, Gemma has suffered the heartache of losing two babies; a son Oscar, who was stillborn, and a daughter, Skye, who died at just 10 minutes old.
“The three of us just keep going,” said Gemma. “We are always there for each other.”
The part-time cleaner says she is shocked to be nominated for the competition, which aims to find Sunderland’s best mum in time for Mother’s Day.
“I had no idea Caitlyn had put my name forward. It’s a surprise, but a nice surprise.”
Ellie’s condition means the family has to visit the Niall Quinn centre at Sunderland Royal Hospital every three months.
Gemma, of Ryhope, said: “It means I’m kept pretty busy all the time but they are good girls – most of the time. They get along pretty well, although they do sometimes fight.”
Caityln has her fingers crossed Gemma will be crowned Sunderland’s number one mum.
She said: “I love her so much and just want to give her a day that she will enjoy without any stress.”