Dedicated foster parent is recognised for her years of caring for children

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One of Bedfordshire’s long-standing foster parents has been rewarded for nearly a quarter of a century of caring for children.

Mary Laws, from Bletsoe, took in her first child 24 years ago and has cared for many more since.

She received the national Fostering Network’s Outstanding Contribution to Foster Care Award during a ceremony at Central Bedfordshire Council’s Priory House headquarters in Chicksands, on Friday, December 19.

Mary was accompanied by her husband, Paul, and two youngsters she has looked after, Emily Bowers and Kristian Rolls.

Kristian, 23, recently moved out after spending 18 years with Mary who said during that time, they worked hard to keep contact with his birth family.

She said: “Having a good relationship with the children’s birth families is important. Kristian sees his grandparents and we worked it out between us to make sure that happened; they even came to my wedding.

“That’s one of three main things about making fostering a success. Also weathering the storm and not giving up when the going gets difficult, because if you keep going you will come out the other side.”

She added: “The other is understanding children’s brains and the fact that sometimes they need to regress, because the pathways in their brains have not developed.”

Mary and her husband Paul received further accolades for their dedication to fostering in September when they were recognised in the My Brilliant Foster Carer category at the council’s Celebration of Fostering event.

Mary was presented with her award by the council’s Director of Children’s Services, Sue Harrison, who applauded her commitment to fostering.

Mrs Harrison said: “This award was designed to recognise foster carers who have gone beyond the call of duty, and Mary certainly does that.

“She has never given up on a child in all of the years that she has been fostering, and goes out of her way to help others.

“The young people she has looked after say that she is always there to offer help and support, and makes them feel safe and secure, and speaking with her today I can see why.”

For more information about becoming a foster carer, call 0300 300 8181.