A group of foster carers have been presented with special long service awards after dedicating more than 200 years to helping youngsters in the borough.
Between them, the carers have helped hundreds of children by giving them a loving home and a chance when they really needed it the most.
The awards were handed out to 13 foster carers who were invited to meet with the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, cllr Jim Shorrock, for a celebration at Blackburn Town Hall.
Sylvia and Dave Coulthard, who have been together since they were 15-years-old, are the longest-serving foster carers of the group, with 40 years experience and have helped a staggering 200 youngsters over the four decades. Sylvia said:
‘It began when I had to give up full time nursing to look after my young son.
‘Dave and I felt that fostering could be something that we could both enjoy, and it would help make a difference to the lives of these children.
‘We found that we really enjoyed being foster carers and have over the years dealt with babies through to young adults.’
‘Fostering can be challenging at times but with the training and support we get, we feel we can cope with it and are quite proud that we have.
‘For us, it’s a way of life. We enjoy having young people around and helping them get the most out of life so they can move on with confidence and hope for the future.
‘We need more people to come forward and start fostering! You would be surprised at how much it could change a young person’s life, and how much it will change yours too.’
The couple received their awards alongside Tracey and Anthony Matthews (30 years), Anne Loughlin (10 years), Gulam and Bilkis Patel (10 years), Sharon and Craig Wakes (10 years), Bernie and Tony Woods (10 years), Sam Briggs (10 years), and Joan Connelly (10 years).
Jayne Ivory, director of Children’s Services and Education for Blackburn with Darwen Council said:
‘Helping the young people of our borough to grow and to find their way in life is one of our priorities.
‘Being a foster carer is challenging, but it can bring many rewards.
‘It’s amazing to see that these people have cared so much and put so much effort into giving these young people a chance when they needed it most.’
Photo Credit – Blackburn with Darwen Council