If it wasn't for the support of my parents and mother-in-law, our childcare costs would be astronomical.

Becky and I both work full-time, with Becky holding down two part-time teaching jobs. Her working hours fit nicely into school hours, most of the time, but free childcare from our own grandparent army is invaluable.

A new report from the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) has found grandparents are providing childcare worth more than £16bn a year to parents across the UK.

They estimate that nine million grandparents, about 65% of the total, are carrying out an average of 11.3 hours of unpaid childcare each week.

We often hear about the financial planning challenges created by an ageing population and being members of the 'sandwich generation'.

This research, carried out on behalf of insurance company Ageas, tells a more positive story, with the grandparent army saving £1,786 a year on average for working parents.