Awards for long-serving foster carers from Aylesbury and Buckingham
Five foster carers have been presented with awards for notching up a combined 70 years service between them.
Charlie and Juliet Cleverdon and June Sutton – who have notched up 50 years of service between them - were honoured at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Aylesbury at a ceremony on June 12.
Mrs Sutton, who has completed 20 years of service, and Mr and Mrs Cleverdon who have completed 30 years, were presented with special gifts at the event by Lin Hazell, the county council’s cabinet member for children’s services.
Angela Newsome and her husband also received an award for 20 years’ service but were unable to attend the ceremony.
Mrs Sutton, from Aylesbury, has fostered around 30 children over a 20-year period, despite being a single mum and coping with Crohn’s disease.
The 64-year-old said: “There has been lots and lots of heartache over the years, but there has also been lots of joy.
“It is a fantastic feeling to see children develop to meet their potential.”
Mrs Sutton, who has two birth children of her own, is a former school welfare assistant who had to leave her job due to her illness.
She said: “I was sitting at home doing nothing and I was bored to death.
“My sister was a foster carer at the time and she said ‘why don’t you foster?’
“I told her they wouldn’t accept me because I had been ill, but when I called the county council fostering team, they grabbed me with open arms and it went from there.
“I have fostered the whole time since on my own, and have now adopted a son as well.”
Mrs Sutton, who fosters children of all ages said: “I was quite ill at one stage and the fostering team was fantastic.”
She added that she was slightly embarrassed by receiving her long-service award, but was delighted by the crystal vase given in recognition of her efforts over the years.
Juliet and Charlie Cleverdon, from Buckingham, have fostered countless children over the last 30 years – and say they love it so much, they would do it all again.
She said: “I just love every bit about fostering and I don’t know what I would do without it.
“I can’t last a day without looking back to see if my brood is behind me.”
Mrs Cleverdon said she always wanted to foster and work with children, ever since she was 18 years old and said she decided to take the plunge when her own birth daughter was two years old.
She said: ““We thought it would be really nice to offer a home to another child who needed it.
“I was given a sibling pair – a boy and girl of completely different ages.
“It was hard but it was fantastic.
“I learnt so much.
“It was that feeling of making a difference.
“It was a challenge but you have the support and you learn.
“I am still learning every day.”
Mrs Cleverdon added that fostering was ‘the life we had chosen’ and said she would be happy to do it all again.
Angela Newsome, who lives in the Aylesbury area, says her life has been transformed and enriched from fostering more than 100 teenagers over the last 20 years.
Since 1995, Mrs Newsome and her husband have helped youngsters aged 12 to 17 and hope to continue for many years to come because the experience has been so rewarding.
She said: “Fostering has enriched our lives because you see so much more.
“It’s an excuse to do things you otherwise wouldn’t do, such as going to the seaside or the zoo or going on other outings.
Mrs Newsome, who is in her 50s added: “I see myself as an aunt or older sister.
“They call me Angela because they always have their own parents, good or bad, and I’m not replacing them.
“The most rewarding thing is to see the positive change for the young people, from coming in scared and not being able to interact with them to beginning to trust you.
“It’s great to see them start to move forward in a positive way.
“Through nurture and providing them with a safe environment, the majority of these people sort themselves out.
“These young people need this care.
“To be sent out of the county or to be put in a residential unit is not the best place for them.”
Cllr Hazell said: “These carers epitomise everything that is good about the fostering service in Buckinghamshire.
“They have all given huge parts of their lives to looking after vulnerable children and we are very grateful for all they have done.
“They clearly love fostering and have put their heart and soul into helping others over a very long period of time.
“They are an inspiration.”