Men and women in Rhondda Cynon Taf who have opened their homes, families and hearts to children and young people who need it the most have been awarded for their 120+ years commitment to foster care.
Every year, the Fostering RCT appreciation lunch is held to say "thank you" to each and every one of the foster carers who provide love and support for children and young people who, through no fault of their own, are unable to live with their birth parents.
The appreciation lunch celebrates the commitment of foster carers and the professional and compassionate way in which they help to raise the county borough's most vulnerable children.
It also marks fostering landmarks, such as years served and qualifications achieved.
This year, the following carers were awarded for their long service:
- Keith and Belinda Eynon, who have been foster carers for 15 years.
- Heather and John Ennis, who have been fostering for 20 years.
- Tracey Bristow, who has been fostering for 15 years.
- Tracy and Lee Grenter, who have been fostering for 15 years.
- Lynda and Kelvin Coomber, who have been fostering for 10 years.
- Tracey Jenkins, who has been fostering for 10 years.
- Diane and Christopher Price, who have been fostering for 10 years.
- Karen and Paul Clarke, who have been fostering for 10 years.
- Christine Turner and Anthony Miles, who have been fostering for 10 years
- Audra Williams, who has been fostering for 10 years.
- Dean Evans and Dawn Morris, who have been fostering for 15 years.
Cllr Tina Leyshon, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council's Deputy Cabinet Member for Children and Young People presented the long service achievements at the lunch.
She said: "There are more than 600 children, aged 0-18 in Rhondda Cynon Taf who rely on foster carers to provide them with the safety, support and love they need.
"The carers of Fostering RCT come from all walks of life. Those of you here today, aged from just 21 to in your late seventies, are proof of that.
"Some of our carers are married, some are not. Some own their own homes, some don't. Some are gay, some are straight. But what they all share is an unrelenting commitment to the children who need them and the capability, patience and professionalism to love and support those children for as long as is needed.
"It is thanks to them that children are successfully reunited with their families, are raised to be independent young adults or are prepared for new lives with new adoptive families.
"It's probably one of the most challenging roles you can carry out, but also one of the most rewarding. Thank you all, for all that you have done and continue to do."
The Fostering RCT appreciation lunch 2017 also played host to the launch of a prestigious new award, which will be presented to an outstanding foster carer or carers each year.
The award has been set up in partnership with and in honour of former Fostering RCT carer Ken Mason and it will be presented to a foster carer or carers who have been nominated by their fellow foster carers and the Fostering Support Team.
Ken and his wife Yvonne fostered scores of children during their 40 years as foster carers and are considered inspirations and role models to the many other foster carers who have followed in their footsteps and benefited from their knowledge, advice and support.
As well as being an outstanding foster carer, Ken was a mentor and delivered Skills to Foster training and induction to potential new carers. He was also often seen at events to encourage more people to consider being foster carers.
Since his and Yvonne's retirement in the summer, Ken has not been in the best of health and he worked with the Fostering Support Team to create the award, which he says rewards and commends the essential attributes of successful foster carers - patience, professionalism and an overwhelming focus on the needs of the child.
Ken also chose the first-ever recipients of the Ken Mason award for Outstanding Contribution to Foster Care - Rhondda's Pam and Rob Dorrington.
Pam and Rob have fostered more than 70 children and young people in their 30 years at Fostering RCT and have been recognised for their "salt of the Earth" family values, their professionalism when working with others, such as teachers, counsellors and social workers, for the benefit of a child and their unwaivering commitment to the needs of those they care for.
Our Fostering RCT carers come from all walks of life. All we ask is that you are at least 21 years old and have a spare room. To find out more about fostering, call 01443 341122 or visit www.fosteringrct.co.uk for your free information pack.
You can also find out more and meet our carers at www.facebook.com/FosteringRCT
Posted on Friday 22nd December 2017