An Exmouth couple who have been giving a home to children in need for more than 50 years have been recognised by the Queen for their efforts.

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Foster carers John and Mary Richardson, of Moorfield Road, have been named as MBEs in the New Year Honours list for services to children and families.

Also honoured are East Budleigh’s Kathy Moyle, who receives the British Empire Medal for leading the restoration of historic Salem Chapel, and Royal Marine Colour Sergeant Martin Ash, of the Lympstone Commando Training Centre, who receives an MBE for work with injured marines and service charities.

John, 83, and Mary, 82, began their fostering career around 55 years ago, when having helped neighbours with childcare it was suggested to them that they might like to take it up full time.

They find it tough to say how many children they have fostered, but estimate the number at around 100, and are still fostering today.

Despite their long service, Mary says she could not believe it when she first learned they were to receive MBEs.

She said: “I got the letter, and I thought ‘somebody’s having me on here, this must be a big joke’. I left it all day, and then my daughter came and said ‘Mum, it’s definitely true!’.

“It is wonderful. We feel very proud to think we have been nominated. There is a huge band of people out there who do fostering who deserve it, in many cases, more than we do, who haven’t got the length of time we have but do incredible things.

“Exmouth is full of wonderful foster parents who do a lot of great work.”

The couple have done their fostering alongside bringing up their own five children, one of whom, Kathy, decided to become their daughter having been fostered by them.

When asked why they have been fostering for so long, Mary said: “I love having young people and children around, and I think I have got more out of it than I put into it. There is the feeling of being there for kids who need you.”

Kathy Moyle’s recognition is for leading the campaign, after Salem Chapel closed in 1993, to restore and reopen it, eventually seeing this realised in 2006.

Kathy, 69, of Brookfield Road, said: “I feel very proud that people feel I have done enough to get this award. I feel very honoured. I couldn’t believe it when I found out.”

“I feel we were saving it for the nation. It’s such an important part of our history for the nation, not just for East Budleigh.”

Martin Ash, 45, receives his MBE for work with injured marines, and for tri-service charity, the Not Forgotten Association.

He said: “I feel overwhelmed and humbled to have received an MBE. But the real people to be admired are the injured servicemen I have worked with over the years who benefit from the fantastic work the charity does.”

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