UK

Father of 13 says he 'loves them all with a passion'

Image caption Steve says he loves all of his children 'with a passion'

This week a study revealed that one in eight UK children rarely or never sees their father.

So can one man have 13 children by eight different partners, have married six times and still be a good father? Well, ask Steve Ginger.

"I try to be a good dad," says the 49-year-old, who lives in a Bedfordshire village along with wife number six and three of his four stepchildren.

A sign by his front door warns that trespassers will be shot, and from behind the house comes the howl of a huge dog.

Steve's arms are covered in tattoos, his face is pierced and he has a build that made him a prison boxing champion.

But when he sits down with a roll-up cigarette to talk about his many children, a gentler person emerges.

"Kids are there for life, like a dog. You've got to look after them," he says.

He gamely tries to remember when some of his offspring were born.

"Birthdays… I'm absolutely terrible with birthdays, I must admit."

He turns to his 16-year-old stepson Rees for help, but none comes.

"He's terrible as well," says Steve.

"Rebecca and Stephanie, I haven't got a clue. I've got it written down somewhere.

"Cheyenne's birthday… I can remember that. It's the 22nd of, err, August?

"My wife's good at birthdays," he says, referring to Anne, his spouse of two years.

'I love kids'

Steve's first two marriages lasted just a few weeks and yielded no children. He admits to spending a wedding night with someone other than his new bride.

The next four marriages were more productive, as were the relationships with four further women.

"I still get on relatively well with them all," he says.

"It's not like we hate each other and I still see the children all the time."

Steve has 13 children, plus one of disputed paternity who calls him dad. Their ages range from four to 27, and around half are now adults.

"I never planned it, but I don't think I'd change it. I love kids," he says.

"If I didn't love them I wouldn't let them come back all the time, and you wouldn't put up with the things you have to put up with."

Steve is a trained mechanic, but a back injury in 1996 means he is unable to work, lives off income support and disability allowance, and admits to struggling financially.

"When my daughter moved back in she was a priority until she's sorted out. The boys come and go, they stay three, four, five days at a time and need feeding and that's what we do.

"You just have to make ends meet.

"Right now it's the twins' birthday [Rees and his brother Shane]. One wants a Nintendo DS, the other wants trainers and a jumper. We'll have to find the money from somewhere."

'Bad patches'

So is Steve Ginger a good father?

"Ask my children," he replies.

"Yeah he's good," says Rees. "Looks after me, so that's all that matters."

As for his other 17 children and stepchildren, Steve says he tries to be there when they need him.

"When they go through bad patches and they want to come home then they're welcome.

"I love all of them with a passion. That's the one thing you've got to have as a parent.

"I put my children before anything, before my own life. I would do anything and that is a fact."