A mum in a million who has fostered 75 children is urging more people to follow her example as record numbers of youngsters need care.
At least 20 new foster families are required in Lincolnshire as the number of looked after children has leapt by nearly ten per cent in a year to 570.
A mother of four, who lives near Spalding, is now in her early 70s and still fostering after 40 years.
We cannot reveal her name because of protection issues surrounding the children in her care, but she has stepped forward to ask others to consider fostering – not only to help youngsters but because it is such a rewarding way of life.
She told us: “This will be my 40th year and I’ve had 75 children in that time. Some have only been with me a day or so but one, my very first foster child, has been with me for 39 nearly 40 years – she lives on her own, but very close by, and I had her from birth to 18.
“I have got quite a lot of children who have remained in touch with me and they are very much part of my family.”
The mum’s own children – two sons and two daughters – are aged between 40 and 50 and as youngsters they were consulted before anyone came to stay.
“That remains the case to this day,” she said. “Every child that comes over my doorstep belongs.”
Sunday lunchtimes are special occasions at her home because there can be as many as eight of her extended family sitting down to the meal.
As a child, the mum lived next to a children’s home.
She said: “I decided then that when I grew up I wanted to become a foster parent.”
For 30 of her 40 years, the mum has been a single parent as she separated from her husband.
That hasn’t daunted her from looking after youngsters with autism, Fragile X or disturbed emotions after suffering abuse or being orphaned.
She said: “There’s lots of children out there who need love and I have got lots of love to give. Some of these children need lots and lots of TLC to help them recover, lots of understanding and very gentle handling.
“Provided Social Services are prepared to keep me, then I would like to do it for a little while longer. It gives me a purpose in life.
“It can be very hard work but it’s very rewarding.”