Christine has fostered since 1975
Christine and her late husband, Peter, began fostering in 1975 when their daughter was 6 years old and they continued to foster after their son came along. Peter sadly passed away in 2017 and Christine explains that they were all very much a team: “My husband got involved in everything. He used to say ‘I’m the bottle washer - that’s my job’. We did it as a family.”
Christine says that she couldn’t have fostered without the support of her family: “all our family were supportive of us fostering; and our friends too. The children were treated as family by everybody…. I think that is important.”
One of the most remarkable attributes of Christine is her determination to continue fostering no matter what life has thrown at her, and Christine has certainly had to overcome her fair share of adversity.
In 1985, at the age of 40, Christine was diagnosed with breast cancer. Christine recalls that “when you receive a diagnosis like that, your main concern is obviously your own family and children. I also thought, I really hope this doesn’t stop me from fostering.”
When asked why she decided to foster, Christine explained that: “I used to help out at my daughter’s play group and it was them who said ‘Have you thought about fostering?’ I have always loved children and wanted to do something with children. [Being a foster carer] you are able to make a difference. You love these children. You can give them a bit of security, safety… make them feel part of a family. That’s how they are treated - as part of our family.”
"You love these children. You can give them a bit of security, safety… make them feel part of a family."
Christine has been a foster carer for over 44 years and in that time has fostered more than 250 babies and children from the Rotherham area. The children have stayed with her for varying lengths of time - from a weekend to as long as 5 and a half years.
Christine explains: “the fact that the first child we ever fostered is now 44, has her own family and is a grandma is just amazing. It is lovely to see them grow up, succeed and have a happy life - knowing you have been part of it.”
Christine has many happy memories of the children that she has fostered. One of her most significant memories was regarding “a child who was really poorly when he came to us. We had a good relationship with his family members and they were told he would never walk. When he left our home he was riding a bike, kicking a football - to see that happen was incredible. He visited me recently, now at 17, and still remembers his old bedroom and likes to look at his pictures I have up on the wall.” Christine goes on to explain how “it’s mixed emotions when a child leaves. You are sad - but they are going on to their forever family, or back to their own family. I often ask can I do this? Can I say goodbye? I like to say that a little piece of my heart goes with them. It’s not goodbye. I actually still see so many of the children I cared for, and with social media now I get messages and photos and Christmas cards. And I see them grow up and be happy. What more can I ask for?”
Christine describes the support she has received over the years as wonderful, both from the Fostering Rotherham team and from other foster carers. “We have received so much support and made great friendships from our community of foster carers. It’s just a fantastic group.”
When asked if she would recommend foster caring, Christine replied: “If you have love in your heart, time, patience and the space - for me I tell people to go ahead and do it. I would recommend it to anyone… I love children and making a difference to other children's lives.”
In November, Christine, received an MBE from The Duke of Cambridge for her services to fostering. “I am so proud to get this recognition, but it’s not what I do it for. I do it because I love doing it."
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