A couple from Doncaster, who have helped and supported over 100 children as foster carers, were this week praised for their life-long commitment as they retire from fostering aged 80 and 81.
Ian and Eileen Lindley first began fostering in 1992 and have provided a home to children who cannot live with their birth families ever since.
As specialist foster carers they have supported vulnerable children facing a range of challenging circumstances, welcoming all into their care and significantly improving their life chances.
This has included children and young people from across Doncaster and South Yorkshire but also internationally, as they have cared for children trafficked to the UK from all corners of the world.
Trust Fostering, part of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, who the couple worked with as foster carers, marked the couple’s retirement with a celebration at the Mansion House.
The event was attended by friends and colleagues of the Lindleys from across the Trust and the Council, young people and adults who were previously in the couple’s care and foster carers that the Lindley’s have provided support and guidance to over the years.
Julie Mepham, Senior Head of Service at the Trust, said: “It is impossible to put into words the huge difference that Ian and Eileen have made to the lives of so many young people.
“This includes the dedication to those in their care but also the support they have continued to provide to young people in the months and years following this. They have always told their previous foster children that, although they may be grown up, they are always welcome into their home during holidays such as Christmas and Easter and they have continued to support them with their education, employment and family life.
“The children they have cared for have gone on to be successful students, graduates, doctors and parents themselves and many still keep in touch with the Lindleys.
“We cannot ever thank them enough for all they have done and we know their work will continue to inspire others for years to come.”
Petra, one of the first children the Lindleys fostered over 25 years ago, said: “Looking back I couldn’t have asked for anyone better suited. Being a teenager education was difficult, being socially accepted was difficult and having a family environment was difficult to understand.
“Luckily in the hands of Ian and Eileen all my prayers were answered. They were patient, caring and gave me stability. They didn’t make me feel any different, we were all one of their children.
“Even after all these years I know where they are and I often go to visit. I want to thank them dearly for the opportunities they gave me. They put me in good stead to get where I am now as an adult.”
Eileen Lindley said: “When our four children left home we needed to fill our house again with children, fun and laughter.
“The joy of watching children grow and develop is wonderful. All children have potential and that potential needs realising. It is not how many young people you care for, rather the distance they travel in your care that is important.
“I am so proud of all the young people that have been in our home. I would encourage anyone who has considered fostering to take the next step and contact the Trust. It really is the most wonderful thing you can do.”
Ian Lindley added: “It was the best decision we ever made. We are still home to them all – we haven’t forgotten a single one and we are always here for them.”