Devon's foster care awards mark fostering fortnight

FOSTER carers who have a combined total of 360 years caring experience will be honoured at a ceremony at County Hall at a special event to mark the national Foster Care Fortnight, which starts next week (11-22 May).

FOSTER carers who have a combined total of 360 years' caring experience will be honoured at a ceremony at County Hall at a special event to mark the national Foster Care Fortnight, which starts next week (11-22 May).

Organised by Devon County Council's Fostering Service, the ceremony takes place on Friday, May 15. Keynote speaker at the awards is Patrick Ayre, senior lecturer in social work at the University of Bedfordshire, who will be speaking on how foster carers can improve the lives of children who have been neglected. Welcoming winners and presenting the awards will be Councillor John Smith Executive Member for Children and Young People's Services and CYPS Director Anne Whiteley.

Long-service awards will be presented to 28 foster carers and families, including Jan and Rod Crook of Dawlish (30 years); Jackie Coffey of Tiverton, and Janet and Jim Elworthy of Hemyock (20 years).

Three carers will also be honoured for their exceptional achievements in foster care. June and Geoff Pollard from Yelverton; Mary and Troy Lancaster from Budleigh Salterton and Georgie Offield from Braunton will be presented with these special awards for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Andrea Hoile, the social worker who nominated June and Geoff Pollard, said: "Geoff and June have looked after children who have been part of some very complex legal situations and have shown commitment and ability to work with contact and care plans in some very challenging circumstances."

In her nomination, senior support worker Bev Myers said of Mary and Troy Lancaster: "The time, thought and care they consistently put into their work is exceptional, in order to achieve the best possible outcomes for children in their care. "

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Georgie Offield was nominated by two separate people. Social Worker Liz Nicholson said of her: "Georgie's natural wisdom has given her the ability to tune in and understand children, young people and their troubled lives. She has offered security, love and acceptance to young people who had given up hope of ever finding it."

The awards highlight a fortnight of activities to celebrate foster care in Devon. The fostering team and foster carers will be in the Devon County Council marquee at the Devon County Show talking to people and handing out leaflets. The Fostering team and carers will also be at various locations around the county to talk to members of the public and provide information on the fostering.

The council has around 290 foster carers and 320 children in foster placements, but more carers are being sought to provide a place for a child in need.

Director of CYPS Anne Whiteley, said: "We are always seeking people who can provide short-term, long-term or respite placements to children in care, and give them the love and security to help them thrive.

"We have a superb network of foster carers in Devon, and these awards are an excellent way to recognise their achievements. Many of our carers have been fostering for more than a decade, and we support them with training and advice, as well as organising events like the awards ceremony to recognise the really important contribution they make.

"I would like to congratulate all of these very deserving award winners for their tremendous achievements."

Foster carers can be single, married, in a same sex relationship, employed or unemployed, of any age and with or without other children. One single thing they have in common is the ability to provide the security, love and understanding to enable the child to build self-esteem, establish friendships and fulfil their potential.

Anyone who would like further information about fostering can contact the fostering team on 0845 115 1013 or visit the website