A couple who have provided a loving home for foster children for more than 40 years were given a special thank you by friends and family at a celebration event this week (6 September).
Val and Derek Wilson from Bratton had four children of their own but when their youngest was a toddler they decided they could continue to offer a loving home to benefit other children.
Initially they fostered for the Church of England and then a few years later saw an advert for Wiltshire Council and joined the fostering service in April 1975. A baby was placed with them, and she remained with them until she was an adult and ready to leave home.
Over the next thirty years they cared for three groups of siblings, each on a long term basis one after the other, who also remained with them from the time they arrived until they were ready to leave home as adults. They went on to adopt four of the children who were placed with them. All of the children remain part of their huge and expanding family.
For the past few years they have switched to short term fostering and have cared for many children helping them to return to their parents, to long term foster carers or to be adopted.
Val and Derek said: We’re so proud of all our children. We feel we’ve raised four families of children – our own and three foster families. However it wouldn’t have been possible to do this without the support of our family and we’re extremely grateful for that.”
The celebration event to recognise the commitment and love Val and Derek have given many children over the years, was held at the foster carers support group at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham on Wednesday.
Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children said: “Val and Derek will have played an enormously important role in helping shape many young people’s lives for the better by offering them a loving home.
“We are grateful for all their wonderful work over the years and I hope their inspirational story will encourage more people to consider fostering.”
People wishing to foster can come from many backgrounds. Anyone who thinks they can make a difference to a child’s life and have the time to care, can find out more about fostering at one of our information evenings. The next meeting will take place on 26 September at County Hall Trowbridge from 7pm. For further details on fostering you can visit http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/fostering-could-you-foster