Inverness dad launches crowdfunder appeal as family faces tough times
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After battling more than his share of heartache and hardship, an Inverness dad-of-seven is facing up to his biggest fight.
Jobless Steve Dwenger has been faced with a huge series of challenges and tragedies in his 42 years.
After a childhood scarred by drugs and abuse, Mr Dwenger has also suffered the devastating loss of three of his children to illness.
The painter and decorator has also been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer – a gastro-oesophageal tumour.
Now he is reluctantly asking strangers for help as he struggles to make ends meet and look after his children.
He married at a young age and they had four daughters, two of whom were killed by an infection. The tragedy was too much for his marriage, which broke down.
He met a new partner but their firstborn died, before having two more children.
Just as life was improving, Mr Dwenger fell from some scaffolding and broke both of his wrists. While in recovery after an operation, his employer went out of business.
This was followed by the cancer diagnosis and he split from his new partner, leaving him with two of his children in homeless accommodation.
After what he described as being in a “dark place”, the support of his friends has encouraged him to seek £1000 via online crowdfunding.
He admitted he was embarrassed to be in this predicament, but knew he needed help.
“The first 42 years of my life have been fairly dismal,” Mr Dwenger said.
“I was forced into selling drugs at a young age and I have had two failed relationships.
“I have lost three baby girls, Niamh, Aimee and later Cara, when they were only a few days and weeks old, and I fell last year and broke both my wrists. If I had to write down everything that happened to me, I would struggle to get up in the morning.
“I didn’t have the best start in life, and I want to be there for my children – they are my world.”
Mr Dwenger, who lives in Merkinch, continued: “After being moved into temporary homeless housing in June, I am now looking forward to getting my first flat but I have nothing, not even a single toy for my younger children Alexander (4) and Ava (2).
“I was given furniture but the mattress is so thin I cannot get comfortable. I need to lie on my side and I can feel the springs on my wound [two ribs were removed when removing the tumour].
“I now weigh only eight-and-a-half stone, and I am 6ft tall so there is nothing of me. I don’t like asking for help, but I need it.”
During lockdown, when he should have been protecting himself, he went round to his elderly neighbours and dropped off bags of food for them.
“I don’t have very much to share with people, but I’ve got my disabled car sorted out during the last few weeks and I have been using it to get shopping in for my neighbours,” Mr Dwenger said.
“I have also been sharing the items in my shielding pack that I know I will never use.”
His friend Lesley Wright encouraged Mr Dwenger to start crowdfunding.
She said: “Steve is trying to cope with providing a normal daily life for his children while he is facing more chemotherapy, unable to work through accident and illness.
“Steve is a wonderful father with a huge heart.”
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