08 February 2012: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepag...fer-hope-to-others-with-messages-of-love.html 'Husband's illness was a sign for me to offer hope to others' Mum's inspiring messages of hope A THANKFUL wife has taken to the streets to inspire passers-by with messages of hope and love. To look at her cheery face and inspirational signs, it's hard to believe that just 12 months ago, mum-of-six Starling Linus was facing a grim future. Her husband Ben was suicidal, suffering from a debilitating illness for which there was no cure. Against all the odds, he has now fully recovered and Starling is so grateful she wants to share her happiness. She starts her day like millions of others across the country. But after waving goodbye to her children at the school gates, she sets out on a unique mission. She grabs her cheerful, handmade 4ft-high sign, heads into Oxford city centre and, for four hours, cheers up shoppers. Smile, everything is going to be OK! Today is not the day to give up! Hope keeps dreams alive! Keep dreaming! Her presence has become quite a talking point in Oxford. She says: "Not long after I started standing with my signs, the town crier, who does tours of the city, asked me to tell him the story behind my messages as so many tourists were asking about me." The story of the full-time mum to children and stepchildren, aged seven to 21, is well worth telling and revolves around her husband's amazing recovery from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Starling recalls: "He'd been feeling unwell but we just thought it was the flu. Then one day he was walking home from work and his legs gave way." It took four months before IT specialist Ben, by then bedridden, was diagnosed with ME. Over the next five years Ben's health deteriorated as the immune disorder attacked his organs. Starling says: "This man, who had a good career, loved to party, played in a band and had a very active life, now had to be helped to the toilet. Everything changed. "Our life became a constant round of seeing different white coats." A year ago he hit rock bottom, becoming so crushed by his illness that he no longer wanted to live. Starling says: "One night I woke up and he was sitting at the end of the bed. He was completely broken and said, 'I just can't do this any more. I literally can't live like this. This is not living.' "It was then he told me he wanted to end his life. That he just wanted to die and 'get it over with'. It was terrifying." But what frightened Starling the most was that at that moment she had supported her husband in his heartbreaking decision. She says: "I thought, 'This is it. He's not getting better. He's getting worse.' It's painful to admit but I sat there and considered letting him die. "I asked him, if he could do just one thing before he died, what would it be? And that's when he said he wanted to make an album. "That had been Ben's dream all of his life. His real love was music." After that day Starling supported her husband in fulfilling his life-long dream and what had now become his "legacy" something for his children and for those who loved him to remember him by. But Ben who only formed the band HashTag Alice in November after advertising in the local paper somehow, started to get better. Within six months he had made an astonishing recovery. Starling says: "There were some really rough days and nights but by the time the album was finished, he was well and in virtually no pain. It was magical to watch. "The doctors didn't really understand how he was getting better. All of a sudden his blood tests were stable and the doctors started reducing the medication he was on." Now, a year on from that terrible night when death seemed a better option than life, Ben has fulfilled his dream of recording an album. Ben, 38, says: "Concentrating on the album, being inspired and doing the one thing I always wanted to do as well as the love of my wife that is what saved me." It was shortly after the release of the band's album It Is What It Is that Starling came up with her novel idea. She says: "I realised Ben's recovery was about deciding to do what he really loved. I wanted to tell other people about what had happened. "That we should do what makes us happy, what makes us feel alive." Note: I haven't included all the pictures. Seeing is believing! Anyhoo... quite an inspirational wife and mother by all accounts - if a little OTT for my taste [squirm] I can't help but wonder if this has been featured as some sort of compensation for Liddle's rant - or maybe it's my suspicious nature?