Two more Wolverhampton foster carers have been made MBEs in the Queen's New Year's Honours List.
Alan and Jackie Bennett, who have fostered 179 children over the last 40 years, going on to adopt 10 of them, have been rewarded for services to children and families.
Jackie, 61, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded the MBE. It’s a real surprise but we are so proud to receive this honour.”
Alan, 62, said: “It’s a bit of a shock but a great feeling – people like us don’t expect something like this to happen, but we are absolutely delighted.”
The pair began when they fostered their first child in the mid-1970s, and haven’t looked back since. Jackie said: “Alan and I have always wanted a big family – and that’s certainly what we got!
“Fostering is incredibly rewarding. There’s not a feeling like it when a foster child wakes up at our house for the first time and they’ve got a huge smile on their face because they know they are in a safe and loving place.
“I’d really recommend anyone who is thinking of fostering to give it a go – it is hard work, but we’ve had very good support from the council’s Fostering for Wolverhampton team and meet up every month for lunch with other foster carers so we know there is always someone we can call to talk to about any issues we may be facing.”
Alan added: “Fostering was something we had talked about doing for a long time, and we had a spare room so thought we’d open up our house to give children a better start in life.
“It’s a challenge because each child is different. Some just come to us for the night while others are on longer term placements and we’ve been delighted to go on to adopt 10 of our foster children.”
Jackie, who works part-time at Wolverhampton Racecourse, and Alan, who was an electrician but has now retired, say they have no plans to stop fostering anytime soon.
Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "I’d like to congratulate Alan and Jackie on this magnificent achievement and for their fantastic service to children and young people in Wolverhampton over the last four decades.
“Becoming a foster carer takes resilience, patience and understanding, and people like Alan and Jackie to an incredible job for children who, for one reason or another, have had a difficult start to their lives.
“I am really pleased that their dedication has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.”
Also awarded MBEs in the New Year's Honours List were fellow Wolverhampton foster carers Kath and Roy Shayler, who have looked after more than 150 children and young people over the last 43 years. Meanwhile, Christine and John Whatton were awarded MBEs for services for children in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2015 after fostering for more than four decades.
Councillor Gibson added: “Fostering can be a truly life changing experience, both for the foster carers and the young person they care for, and we'd love to hear from people who are interested in helping local children thrive by fostering.”
Anyone who is interested in becoming a foster carer with the City of Wolverhampton Council is invited to visit www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/fostering or call the Fostering for Wolverhampton team on 01902 551133.