The four of us..eighteen years on
Now the fabulous four - Carl, Ashton, Dean and Aimee Hutchinson - have all grown up and have celebrated their 18th birthday.
They have all passed their driving tests, are pursuing different careers but are still mum Shirley’s ‘little babies’.
And rightly so: the odds of having quadruplets is thought to be 1 in 729.000.
So the Hutchinson quads really are special!
“Yes, they are special,” said proud Shirley, in an exclusive interview with The Coleraine Times this week.
“Having quads is very rare although around the time I had mine there were ones born the year before and the year after, so it does happen.
“It’s hard to believe how the time is flown and that they are now 18.”
Shirley recalled the shock of being told she was having quads at the age of 23.
“I was really sick with them and went for a scan at the Route Hospital in Ballymoney.
“When they told me I was having quadruplets I couldn’t really speak for a couple of days.
“It was the kind of thing you read about in a magazine and I didn’t think it would happen to me!
The Hutchinsons were delivered by caesarian section at the Royal Victoria Hospital on August 29, 1996.
Carl came first, weighing in at 2lbs and half an ounce, followed by Ashton, 1lb, 13oz, then Dean 1lb, 12-and-a-half ounces and finally Aimee who tipped the scales at 1lb, 10oz.
“They were in hospital for three months and didn’t come home until November, around their due date.
“They were in the Royal for a couple of weeks and were then moved to the Special Baby Care Unit at Antrim Hospital.
“At the time we lived at Knocklynn Manor in Coleraine and mum and I would make the journey up to the hospital to see them.”
Shirley had to give up her job working on the information desk at Wellworths supermarket (now Asda) to bring her children up.
“I had a lot of support from my family, my mum, sister and sister-in-law,” she says.
Sadly her mum Caroline passed away earlier this year before the quads’ 18th birthday.
“She was like a second mum to them and was very, very close to them all, as she was to all her grandchildren.
“Those early days were a busy time with nappies and feeds. It was hard work but you just had to get into a routine and get on with it.”
It was a case of four of everything in the Hutchinson household - and the youngsters all went on to attend Damhead Primary School with Dean, Carl and Aimee going to Dunluce School, Bushmills and Ashton attending Coleraine High School.
Ashton is aiming to go into biomedical science; Dean and Carl are with Rutledge Training and Aimee, not at Coleraine High, hopes to become a veterinary nurse.
Shirley says: “I must admit I’ve never had any hassle with my lot, they’re good kids and they’ve all passed their driving tests now.”
The family all had a big 18th birthday party for the quartet at Rathmore Golf Club - which of course meant four big presents from mummy!
“We had a great time,” Shirley says, “but Dean managed to dislocate his knee on the dancefloor, so there was a bit of drama there.
“They are great children and I’m lucky to have them!”