Special award for Robbie Williams at Foster Care Oscars

Husband and wife team honoured for their dedication to caring

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Robbie Williams and his wife Ann Williams were among the star foster carers whose dedication to looking after local children was recognised at an awards ceremony in Hammersmith.

Mr and Mrs Williams were among 36 people, including couples and individuals, being honoured at the borough's annual Foster Carers Celebration Evening on Friday July 7th.

Four carers were honoured for 15 years' service to local children, five received ten-year awards and 17 couples or individuals received five-year awards.

Mr and Mrs Williams, who are due to mark 15 years of fostering in December, thought they had been overlooked when the final 15 year award was presented during the ceremony at the Novotel, in Hammersmith.  But they were called up to receive a special award for outstanding service and will receive their 15 year award next year.

Mr and Mrs Williams have cared for 45 children since they began fostering and are currently looking after four girls and two boys aged 7 - 18 with the help of Mrs Williams' sister Sheila Luckhurst, who received her ten-year award at the celebration evening.

One of the girls they care for is aged 14 and severely disabled. Mr and Mrs Williams are in the process of adopting her after fostering her for more than 13 years. The other girls, aged 12,
17 and 18, and the eldest boy, aged 17, have been with them for about eight years, and the youngest boy, aged seven, has been with them for three years. They have four grown-up children of their own.

The couple moved from Fulham to Clacton-on-Sea, in Essex, in 1998 but have continued to care for children from Hammersmith & Fulham at their new home. Mr Williams said all the children have made friends there and would like to stay in the area when they move out.

He said tolerance was the most important quality for a successful foster carer to have. "You can't impose your own ideals on the children when they are coming from different environments," he said. "The main reward is to see them grow up and expand their horizons
- that's lovely."

Mr Williams said he and his wife were delighted with the special award from the council's fostering and adoption team. "Everyone likes to be praised for what they do and we are over the moon about it," he said. "The council has given us tremendous support."

The council's cabinet member for health and social services, Cllr Antony Lillis, who presented the awards, said "Our foster carers have tremendous energy and commitment and the quality of care they provide for local children is invaluable. This annual celebration event is our chance to say thank you to these carers and to recognise the achievements of those who have been fostering for five, ten and 15 years."

The council's director of children's services, Andrew Christie, who also attended the awards ceremony, said: "Fostering children can be demanding - but also extremely rewarding. We have a very good track record of recruiting foster carers, several of whom have stayed with us for 15 years or more, but there are always vacancies for suitable people of all ages and backgrounds who can offer a secure home to children and young people.

Our fostering and adoption team provides first-class support for looked-after children and their carers to help ensure they are well-matched. I would urge anyone who has considered fostering to give us a call to find out more."

Also receiving a special award at the ceremony was Frances Bain, while Margaret Baldry received flowers to mark her retirement from foster caring.

July 24, 2006