VIDEO: MBE a shock but it's great, say foster carers

"IT'S a bit of a shock but a great feeling – people like us don't expect something like this to happen."

VIDEO: MBE a shock but it's great, say foster carers

Those are the words of a couple who have fostered nearly 200 children over four decades and who have been awarded the MBE in the New Year's Honours List.

Alan and Jackie Bennett, from Perton, have gone on to adopt 10 of the 179 children they have fostered and have now been rewarded for their dedication.

Jackie, who works part time at Wolverhampton Racecourse, and Alan, who was an electrician but has now retired, say they have no plans to stop fostering anytime soon.

Both were awarded the MBE along with other unsung heroes from across the region.

Jackie, aged 61, said: "Alan and I have always wanted a big family – and that's certainly what we got.

"Fostering is incredibly rewarding. There's not a feeling like it when a foster child wakes up at our house for the first time and they've got a huge smile on their face because they know they are in a safe and loving place.

"We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded the MBE. It's a real surprise but we are so proud to receive this honour."

Alan and Jackie fostered their first child in the mid-1970s and have not looked back since.

Alan, 62, said: "It's a bit of a shock but a great feeling – people like us don't expect something like this to happen, but we are absolutely delighted."

"Fostering was something we had talked about doing for a long time, and we had a spare room so thought we'd open up our house to give children a better start in life.

"It's a challenge because each child is different. Some just come to us for the night while others are on longer-term placements and we've been delighted to go on to adopt 10 of our foster children."

Also awarded MBEs in the New Year's Honours List were fellow Wolverhampton foster carers Kath and Roy Shayler, who have looked after more than 150 children and young people over the last 43 years.

Meanwhile, Christine and John Whatton were awarded MBEs for services for children in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June 2015 after themselves fostering for more than four decades.

Councillor Val Gibson, cabinet member for children, said: "I'd like to congratulate Alan and Jackie on this magnificent achievement and for their fantastic service to children and young people in Wolverhampton over the last four decades."

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