With nearly five decades of being a foster carer under her belt, there’s no doubt Christine has had an important impact on her community. In recognition of her incredible commitment, Christine won the BBC Radio Sheffield Make A Difference award in the Carer category in September 2023. Christine says it’s “wonderful” to be nominated and explains “I just love what I do”. Christine also has an MBE for her services to fostering.
Christine started fostering with her husband Peter in 1975 and has since helped over 250 children and young people in the Rotherham area. Some children stay with her for a weekend and others stay for years. She says, “It is lovely to see them grow up, succeed and have a happy life, knowing you have been part of it.”
After the children have left her care Christine is glad to say she’s “still in touch with quite a lot of them”. As they grow up she’s invited to their weddings, parties and family events - “so really it’s quite a big extended family”.
Peter and Christine’s daughter was 6 when they started fostering and they continued to foster after their son was born. She explains why she chose to become a foster parent: “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. 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.”
Christine says, “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 I get messages and photos and Christmas cards. And I see them grow up and be happy. What more can I ask for?”
When Christine was 40 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her passion for helping children meant she was determined to continue fostering. Christine notes 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.” Christine is still a foster parent today, saying it’s “so rewarding”.
During her fostering journey Christine has found support in many ways. Her family and friends have been there along the way, and Christine believes “the children were treated as family by everyone … I think that is important.” In 2017, her husband Peter sadly passed away. Christine reflects that he was “instrumental” in looking after the children. “We did it as a family. My husband got involved in everything. He used to say ‘I’m the bottle washer - that’s my job’.”
Christine also found “fantastic support” from the Fostering Rotherham team and gained “great friendships from the community of foster carers”.
Making a difference
“I would recommend fostering to anyone… I love children and love making a difference to other children's lives. If you have love in your heart, and time, patience and the space - for me, I tell people to go ahead and do it.”
Learn more about what it’s like to foster a child by booking a call back with one of our team.