Baby’s first picture

By SIMON PARRY     of the leading     British national             newspaper     Daily Mail It was the call no mother would have predicted. After three failed attempts to
01 Oct 2012 15:07

    of the leading
    British national        
    Daily Mail

It was the call no mother would have predicted.
After three failed attempts to make the long-distance connection from Afghanistan to Fiji, Lance Bombardier Lynette Pearce was finally speaking to her family down an echoing line.
Her first words were: “Are you sitting down, Mum?”
Warily, her mother answered: “Why should I be sitting down?”
Lynette replied: “Please sit down, Mum .  .  . you are a grandmother!”
That was how Evikali Suka Pearce, known as Sugar, discovered that her football-mad soldier daughter had made headlines around the world by giving birth at Camp Bastion.
Not only was the birth a surprise for Sugar, it was also news to 28-year-old Lynette, who had not realised she was pregnant.
Speaking in Lynette’s home town of Nadi, Sugar proudly showed The Mail on Sunday the first picture of her newborn grandson on her computer screen.
Lynette has named the boy Immanuel Izadore, after her two younger brothers, fellow British Army soldier Izadore, 24, and 16-year-old Immanuel.
In a call on the day she gave birth, she told her mother that the father is a fellow Fijian soldier serving with the British Army.
And although Immanuel’s birth stunned the Army, Sugar revealed: ‘She said, “I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s just that I gave birth during working hours.” ’
Lynette said she met the baby’s father in the United Kingdom after joining the Army.
There is a long tradition of Fijians serving in the British Army.
Petite Lynette gave birth in the field hospital at Camp Bastion four days after the base was attacked by the Taliban.
The first British Army soldier to give birth on the front line, she was flown to the UK with her five weeks premature son and treated at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford before being moved to a temporary home in barracks at the end of last week.
Lynette, a former captain of the Fijian women’s football team, has been granted six months’ maternity leave and intends to continue her career with the Royal Artillery, her mother said.
Sugar explained: ‘Lynette told me in a phone call that the baby’s father is a Fijian boy who joined the Army at about the same time as her.
“They met in the UK. When Lynette was in Fiji, she never had time for boyfriends. She was too busy with her soccer.
“When she told me who the father was, I said, And am I going to get to meet this boy?’
She just laughed and said, “Leave him alone.” She hasn’t told me his name. Lynette will tell me all about it in her own time.
“She told me, ‘I haven’t spoken to the baby’s father since my baby boy was born. He hasn’t contacted me and I haven’t tried to contact him.’”
Despite being more than a month early, Immanuel was born at a healthy 5lb 8oz and has put on weight steadily.
Sugar, who works in a sofa shop, said her daughter was shocked by the publicity surrounding the birth: “She told me, ‘I don’t know what the fuss is all about’.”
“Lynette said, ‘Mum, I am alive and well. The baby is alive and well. So what is there to worry about?’
“She sounds well and so excited about being a mum. She said she had been out buying baby clothes and I could hear the baby gurgling in the background.”
Lynette insists she will stay in the British Army. Sugar said: “The Army is her life – that is what she told me. Lynette was always determined to join the Army, from a very young age. She was tougher than her two brothers.”
Sugar said Lynette had tried to call her from Afghanistan several times to give her the news on the day that Immanuel had arrived, but kept getting cut off.
“We were cut off three times,’ she said. ‘I had so many unanswered questions in those first few days.”
Lynette’s father, policeman Maurice Wallace, spoke to his daughter by phone for the first time since the birth last Monday when she called their simple single-storey home on the outskirts of Nadi.
“He is a big man but he has a soft heart,” Sugar said.
“He just broke down when he spoke to her. He cried when he saw the picture of the baby for the first time, too.”
Maurice was overjoyed to become a grandfather but said he was concerned that the fact the baby was born in Afghanistan might put his citizenship in question.
“We pray to God that they give the baby a British passport and that he won’t be an Afghan citizen,” he said.
Sugar, who was 49 on Friday, has applied for a visa to fly to Britain to see her first grandchild.
She expects to be able to fly once Lynette is given an Army home for herself and her baby.
“He is a beautiful birthday present for me,” Sugar beamed.
“I want to see my grandson as soon as I can. I’ve never been to England before, but Lynette has told me she is going to pay for my ticket to go to see her.”
Sugar has been inundated with messages of congratulations since The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that she is the grandmother of the baby born on the front line.
She said: “Everyone here remembers Lynette with great affection. She was like a big sister to everybody.”
Biu Seruvatu, coach of the soccer team in Nadi that Lynette played for, said her former team-mates were thrilled at the news.
Biu added that Lynette, who once scored eight goals in a game, was the best player she had ever had on her team.
“She was so natural, so talented,” she said.
“I have been looking for another player like her ever since, but I have never found anyone as good.
“She is very down to earth and very disciplined, and she really motivated the younger players. Lynette always knew what to say.
“She was so kind and caring. When girls got into trouble, she would always look after them.
“Everyone is surprised and excited at the news of her baby. I heard from one of the girls last year that Lynette had a boyfriend in Britain, but I didn’t hear if he was a Fijian or British.
“She was a very quiet and private person. With Lynette, it was all just soccer, soccer, soccer.”

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