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Foster carers celebrated at long service awards

14 October 2019

The mayor and mayoress of Rochdale with foster carers, Councillor Massey and Gail Hopper.

25 families, who together have devoted a phenomenal 278 years combined to fostering children, were celebrated at the council's annual long service awards.

The event saw 11 families celebrated for 5 years' service, 7 for 10 years, 2 for 15 years, 3 for 20 years, one who have devoted a staggering 30 years - and one who are now in the 33rd year of giving children a loving home.

Councillor Rachel Massey, assistant portfolio holder for children's services at Rochdale Borough Council, paid special thanks: "I am in awe of their unwavering dedication. They have all brought so much happiness and hope to our children and young people for which we are extremely grateful. We work hard to support them and thank them for their commitment."

The families were given their awards by the Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Billy Sheerin, Gail Hopper, director of children's service at the council, and Councillor Massey at the celebration event on Sunday, 13 October 2019.

Among the carers celebrated were the Whitehead family. Irene and Barry began fostering 30 years ago. Irene said: "We are feeling very proud of our 30 years in fostering and helping so many children during that time, because to us every child matters. We are still in touch with many of the children that have come through our door. Some still visit on a regular basis and we are thrilled to say that they are very much part of our family. We feel very rewarded and privileged to play such a huge part in their lives. We are so happy this is what we decided to do 30 years ago."

Gail Hopper speaking at the event alongside the mayor and mayoress and Councillor Massey.

The event was a fun-filled party occasion for all the family with lots of activities for children, including balloon modelling, face painting and a children's entertainer. It also created opportunities for new foster carers to make links with others and form networks.

Ms Hopper said: "We always look forward to this event as we want to recognise the hard work and dedication of our foster carers and say thank you. Fostering is a very special skill that requires the whole family, and often extended family, to take part in supporting and nurturing our children. It was lovely to hear from carers how their careers and lives have changed by making the decision to foster. We are very grateful to those who make such a decision as it really can change children's lives for the better. I hope that the wonderful achievements of these carers will inspire more people in our borough who've been thinking about fostering to get in contact with us."

If you'd like to become a foster carer, the council would love to hear from you.