Dedicated foster carers given long service awards

  |  Published: Jun 27th 2015
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Three dedicated foster carers were presented with long-service awards by Buckinghamshire County Council at a special ceremony.

Juliet and Charlie Cleverdon and June Sutton – who have notched up 50 years of service between them - were honoured at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Aylesbury earlier this month (June 12).  June, who has completed 20 years of service, and Juliet and Charlie 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. Lin 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.”

If you want to find out more about fostering, email firststep@buckscc.gov.uk  visit www.buckscc.gov.uk/fostering or call 0800 160 1900.

 
JUNE SUTTON: Devoted June Sutton has fostered around 30 children over a 20-year period, despite being a single mum and coping with serious illness. June, now 64, suffers from Crohn’s Disease, but says fostering has enriched her life. “There has been lots and lots of heartache over the years, but there has also been lots of joy,” she said. “It is a fantastic feeling to see children develop to meet their potential.” June, who has two birth children of her own, is a former school welfare assistant who had to leave her job due to her illness. “I was sitting at home doing nothing and I was bored to death,” she recalls. “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.” June, from Aylesbury, has fostered across the entire age range of children but now mostly takes babies. Her first placement 20 years ago was a 12-year-old boy over a long weekend. “I remember sitting with him making miniature marzipan for his mother for Christmas.” June praised the Council for its support during her bouts of illness. “I was quite ill at one stage and the fostering team was fantastic,” she said. She hopes to continue fostering for as long as possible, but modestly says receiving a long services award embarrasses her – even though she was delighted by the ‘lovely’ crystal vase she was given. “I am not a person who likes that sort of thing – I am of the era where you don’t sing your own praises,” she said.

JULIET AND CHARLIE CLEVERDON Tireless Juliet and Charlie Cleverdon have fostered countless children over the last 30 years – and say they love it so much, they would do it all again. “I just love every bit about fostering and I don’t know what I would do without it,” said Juliet, who lives in Buckingham with husband Charlie and a house constantly full of youngsters.  “I can’t last a day without looking back to see if my brood is behind me.” Juliet says she always wanted to foster and work with children, ever since she was 18-years-old. She decided to take the plunge when her own birth daughter was two-years-old. “We thought it would be really nice to offer a home to another child who needed it,” she said. “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.” She has lost count of the children she has fostered over the three decades, and normally has three at a time. Juliet, now in her 50s, says fostering means she always has a ‘happy, bubbly, excited home’, and the family jokingly refer to the girls in her house as ‘Charlie’s Angels’, in honour of her husband who is a pillar of support.  Charlie has been a positive role model for the children and supported Juliet who is the main carer. They were both thrilled with their long service award. “All I can say is they did me proud. I was giddy,” she said. “I was presented with a beautiful cake and a bouquet of flowers as well. I cried because it was lovely.” Juliet cannot imagine a world without fostering. ?
“That’s the life we have chosen and I would do it all again,” she said.  

ANGELA NEWSOME  Angela Newsome says her life has been transformed and enriched from fostering more than 100 teenagers over the last 20 years. Since 1995, Angela 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. “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,” said Angela who works at Wycombe Hospital.  There have, of course, been several difficult moments over the years when helping the youngsters through various crises. But Angela praises the support of the fostering service and social workers who, they say, are always on hand to help. “There is so much support out there,” Angela said. “The young people have their social workers and I have found them very supportive and then there is the fostering team – and they are always there if you need them.” Angela and her husband, who are both in their 50s, live in the Aylesbury area and have in the past fostered three at a time. They affectionately refer to their household as the ‘A Team’. “I see myself as an aunt or older sister,” Angela adds. “They call me Angela because they always have their own parents, good or bad, and I’m not replacing them.” She stresses that the most important thing is to help the young people in their care. “The most rewarding thing is to see the positive change for the young people, from coming in scared and not being able to interact to then begin to trust you,” she says. “ 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.” The couple were  unable to attend the ceremony at The Holiday Inn, but Angela said of the long service award: “We were surprised we have lasted this long!”
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