A DEDICATED father who nursed his wife through terminal cancer while caring for their premature newborn son and two-year-old daughter has been named Ireland's Dad of the Year.
Self-deprecating Aidan Duggan joked the honour should go to someone who has "donated a few kidneys", as he collected his gong accompanied by Conor, now aged three, and Aoife, now five, at the Maternity and Infant Awards 2013 in Dublin's Four Seasons Hotel.
Aidan's wife Marion was diagnosed with ovarian cancer while pregnant with Conor in 2010. The baby was delivered early at 34 weeks to allow her to begin treatment. However, tragically Marion passed away just six months later at the age of 38.
"Unfortunately, she was so weak she was hardly able to hold Conor or put Aoife on her lap," recalled Aidan yesterday.
"It was a terrible, traumatic, painful six months."
However, Aidan, from Grenagh, Co Cork, has credited his children with giving him a new lease of life, saying with the death of Marion, he threw himself "100pc" into fatherhood.
This has seen him learn how to use a washing machine and being the only dad in a group of 30 women in a baby massage class.
Since his wife's death, he has also raised €40,000 for ovarian cancer research.
Other award winners include Fionn O'Doherty, from Mallow, Co Cork, who received the Child Hero award for his courage in fighting a rare life-threatening virus that caused him to lose the use of his limbs and left him unable to speak. He has shown remarkable determination to regain the ability to walk and talk.
Meanwhile, the Miracle Baby Award went to seven-month-old Michael Cullen, from Navan Road, Dublin, whose mum, Lorraine, was 11 weeks' pregnant when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
He was delivered early at 34 weeks so his mum could successfully undergo treatment.