Foster parents who have cared for more than 200 children since 1989 were awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.
Brenda and Gordon Potter, from Wallington, have not only adopted more than 200 children over 43 years of fostering but also have 10 children of their own, seven by birth and three adopted.
Brenda, 71, and Gordon, 82, were named in the Queen’s birthday honours last Friday and will receive the award for outstanding service to the community with long-term and significant impact.
Brenda said: “I was delighted. The delight is because it’s something we love doing so much, it’s so lovely to get a reward for it.”
Brenda trained as a nanny before becoming a foster carer but she said it is all about teamwork and was pleased when her husband of 48 years stopped working ten years ago and joined her.
Prior to Croydon Council the pair fostered for Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster.
Over the years Brenda and Gordon were foster parents to newborn babies which meant providing very short-term care, less than three months at times.
Brenda said: “It wasn’t difficult because of the adoration, love and relief I saw on the new couple’s face.
“I was placing this baby in their arms with the words: here you are darling, here’s your new mummy and daddy. The joy and the pleasure that came from that was just an enormous reward on its own.”
Several of Brenda and Gordon’s foster children keep in touch through Christmas cards and visits and they were even given the news they have become foster grandparents.
Croydon cabinet member for children, young people and learning Councillor Alisa Flemming said: “I am so pleased that Brenda and Gordon are getting this very well-deserved recognition for everything they have done, for so many children in Croydon.
“They have made a real difference to so many young lives, giving their time and their care to around 200 children who for whatever reason, cannot stay with their own family.
“They have supported them through trauma, providing them with a safe space and a loving home. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
Ofsted’s annual fostering review published on January 31 showed while the number of fostering places across England increased overall there was a decrease in vacant spaces for children in need of foster care.
The number of filled places increased by 3%, more than the increase in approved places (1%) leading to a 5% decrease in vacant places between 31 March 2017 to 2018 from 17,980 to 17,150 places.
Brenda said while fostering should be appreciated as something older people can do there remains a desperate need for new families of all ages, different cultures, nationalities and ethnicities to come forward.
Ofsted’s fostering data by London local authorities showed Croydon had the highest number of approved foster places (470) and approved foster carers (355) in March 2018 corresponding with having the highest number of children and young people in placements (335).
*Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Lewisham and Westminster are not on the chart due to missing data.