In a heartfelt ceremony at Oldham Athletic, 17 amazing families from different parts of the borough were praised for their combined 160 years of fostering children. The council's yearly long service awards recognised these foster carers for their amazing commitment.
The event honoured seven families for 5 years of service, six for 10 years, three for 15 years, and one family for an incredible 20 years of dedication. Each carer received flowers, a gift voucher, and a certificate as a special thank-you.
Among those honoured were Sharon and Bev O’Neil-Watson. Who have been fostering in Oldham for over 10 years. Shared their thoughts:
“Fostering is incredibly rewarding and inspiring for you and the children you care for. You may not realise the impact you've had until they come back and say, 'You were the best thing that ever happened to me.'
“It's wonderful. The support from the fostering team and fellow carers is fantastic. Receiving this ten-year award is a big deal—it symbolises a decade of love, learning, and helping kids grow. It's not just about the years; it's about the moments, the support, and the lives we've changed. Here's to ten more years of making a real difference!"
Councillor Shaid Mushtaq, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People attended the event and said: " Congratulations and a huge thank you to all the foster carers, the contribution they make to the lives of our children and young people is immeasurable. They deserve recognition and all the accolades they receive."
The awards were handed out by leaders in the Fostering and Adoption Services, adding a personal touch to the evening and showing genuine appreciation for the carers' efforts.
This yearly event, now in its 11th year, brings together foster carers to celebrate their achievements and recognise their dedication to Oldham's children and young people.
Expressing their excitement about the event, Julie Daniels, Director of Children's Social Care & Early Help said: "We always look forward to this. It's our way of honouring the hard work of our foster carers. We're always looking for more people to become foster carers. Seeing how long many have committed to this role shows how fulfilling it is and how much they enjoy it."
Oldham Council welcomes individuals over 21, regardless of their background or relationship status, to consider fostering if they have space in their homes and a passion for working with children. The Council promises complete support, including a dedicated social worker, around-the-clock help, training, and a good financial package.
For those interested in becoming foster carers, please get in touch with Oldham Council's fostering team at 0161 770 6600 or visit https://www.oldham.gov.uk/fostering.
The recognition and celebration at the long service awards highlight the significant impact foster carers have on the lives of vulnerable children, encouraging more people to step up and make a positive difference in the community.