An airport baby in 1999, Colby Withers turns 18

In the carpark of the Launceston Airport 18 years ago, Colby Withers made an unexpected and early entry into the world.

Her mother, Vicki Young, was at the airport with family friend Dearne Howe waiting for the arrival of her mum.

But it was an arrival of a different kind that caught them by surprise.

Mrs Young’s childhood friend, Mrs Howe, delivered baby Colby in the carpark of the airport on June 14, 1999.

She remembers the minus-2-degree night clearly. 

“I could just see the head and next thing there was a whole baby there,” Mrs Howe said. 

“I looked and thought oh my god there’s this baby and I didn’t think she was breathing – but she was probably just as stunned as us.”

The arrival was so astounding, it made front-page news at The Examiner.

Fast-forward and Colby Withers is a mature, humorous and lovable adult – who has just celebrated her 18th birthday with a Raspberry Vodka Cruiser.

Ms Withers, who lives with Down Syndrome, is now looking forward to being surrounded by 150 of her closest family and friends at a party on Saturday.

“Singing, dancing, speeches and karaoke”, will be a feature at the party. 

CELEBRATE: Eighteen-year-old Colby Withers with a copy of The Examiner, from 1999, when she was front-page news. Picture: Scott Gelston

CELEBRATE: Eighteen-year-old Colby Withers with a copy of The Examiner, from 1999, when she was front-page news. Picture: Scott Gelston

Mrs Young vividly recalls the day her daughter unexpectedly entered the world.

She was worried about how Ms Withers would survive, and then cope. 

“She was so tiny, so small and so early, we didn’t know how things would be,” Mrs Young said.

“Now she’s a strong and resilient young woman and we’re really proud.”

Through her child and then teenage life, Ms Withers has shown her parents the way – to their slight surprise.

“We thought raising her as a child with special needs would be difficult, and we were really daunted by that – but it’s been a lot easier,” Mrs Young said. 

“Looking forward it seemed scary but it’s been really easy.”

Mr Withers said Colby was an example of overcoming obstacles.

She was so tiny, so small and so early, we didn’t know how things would be.

Vicki Young

Watching her grow up has also been a proud ride for the woman who became a midwife on that cold night. 

“She’s the sunshine in everybody’s life,” Mrs Howe said.

“You can’t have a bad time when she’s around – she’s just beautiful.”

Next week Ms Withers and her parents will travel to the Gold Coast for a week.