Local Foster Mum Shortlisted for Woman of the Year Award

Linda appears on TV show Lorraine and will attend winners' lunch on October 22

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A foster mum who has cared for more than 50 children over the last 13 years and adopted two sons has been nominated for a national award on ITV morning TV show Lorraine.

Linda Graham, 62, who lives in Shepherd's Bush, has been shortlisted for the Inspirational Woman of the Year award, as part of the annual Women of the Year awards.

She became a foster carer for Hammersmith and Fulham Council in 1999 and since then has cared for 53 children from diverse cultural, social and medical backgrounds. The former crèche worker is also a single mum of five – she has three birth children, Rachel, 42, Justin, 41, and Jack, 23, and two adopted sons Asair, five, who has severe cerebral palsy and Ryan, 13.

Linda, who was nominated by daughter Rachel says: " I am nervous but it’s exciting. We had all the cameras here filming me with my grandchildren and now there’s the lunch on October 22 when we find out who’ll win – I’ll have to buy a new dress for that!"

Linda, though very humble about her ability to look after, love and connect with the children in her care, has already once been honoured with an Outstanding Contribution Award at H & F council's foster carers' celebration evening in 2007.

Linda places a real emphasis on the importance of family, and has always made sure that this value is passed on to her own children and the children she fosters, giving all her children a shared stable, nurturing and creative family life. There is no difference in how she acts with her own biological children and the children placed in her care.

She says: "You have to treat them all the same, and show them that you love them. Like if you buy things at Christmas, then they all get to have the same – you don’t show that there’s a difference between any of them, because there isn't.

"My youngest birth son, Jack, who always had to share me and watch me going to meetings about the other kids all the time, never minded. Jack shared and was kind and gentle with everyone who came to live with us – he was great."

Linda represents all children placed with her during home visits, assessments, looked after child reviews and permanency placement meetings, and acts as their advocate. She has also recently been asked to become a governor at Asair’s school, Jack Tizard, which specialises in education for children with severe learning difficulties and disabilities.

Cllr Helen Binmore, H&F Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, says: "We are incredibly proud of Linda and appreciate all the work she has done over the years for children in this borough, giving them the best possible chance in life.

"Linda is such a compassionate, caring lady who always puts other people first and has a great sense of humour and deserves to be recognised for the incredible work she does. We need more people like Linda and hopefully her achievements will spur even more people to come forward as carers and adopters in the borough.

"I want everyone to vote for Linda to make sure she is named the winner next week!"

Linda’s interests, and time, generally revolve around all the children in the house. She enjoys playing games and going on picnics when the weather is good and spending time with children but she does also managed to squeeze in some " me" time by reading and meditating.

The award is described as being "for inspirational women who have achieved great things against the odds" and recognises "some of the most remarkable women in the world, celebrating selfless acts, heroic behaviour and outstanding achievements".

TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, president of the Women of the Year awards Baroness Helena Kennedy, and Olympic hero Denise Lewis narrowed down the finalists from hundreds of nominees. Viewers of the Lorraine programme will now vote for the winner.

Along with Linda, the nominees are Kate Woolveridge from Cardiff, who runs a choir for sufferers of Alzheimer’s Disease, and Anita Templar from Buckinghamshire, for her work in establishing Horizon Sports Club, which helps children and young people with special needs and disabilities to take part in sport. 

The winner will be announced at the national Women of the Year awards lunch on October 22 and will appear on Lorraine the following morning.

Lorraine Kelly says: " It was so tough to choose just three women to go through to the final of our Women of the Year award, as all of the entries were incredible. The three of them are amazing, and they go that extra mile to make a huge difference to their community.

" Linda, Anita and Kate are simply inspirational and their stories are so touching and humbling. I am truly in awe of all three of them and really wish them all the very best of luck, and I am glad it is down to our viewers to choose the overall winner."

October 19, 2012