Local foster carer Patricia Mills is recognised with a top national award for her outstanding commitment to foster care.
Pat aged 71, received the Outstanding Contribution by a Foster Carer award, sponsored by Mortgage Brain, at the annual Fostering Excellence Awards, organised by The Fostering Network. She has fostered for 12 years with us and was recognised for the commitment and love she has shown to 2 children in her care, both of whom have very complex health needs.
Pat has been looking after a 12-year-old boy with severe disabilities since he was 3 months old. She also cares for an 11-year-old girl who requires daily medication and close supervision due to a heart condition.
The complexity of the health care needs of the young people means that Pat has had to spend a significant time in hospital but does so without complaint. Pat is extremely positive and selfless, and advocates passionately for the needs of the children in her care.
After Jim, her husband of 35 years, died 4 years ago, Pat continued as a foster carer, knowing that that would be what Jim wanted and being determined that the children in her care should stay living with her.
'I love fostering. The children I care for are like my family and I hope that they will be with me for as long as I am able to care for them.'
Pat said: "I've always looked after children, so once the oldest of our 7 children left home I knew that I wanted to become a foster carer. I love fostering. The children I care for are like my family and I hope that they will be with me for as long as I am able to care for them. We really need more foster carers, especially people who think they have the skills and understanding to look after children with disabilities. It's very rewarding because you're giving children a chance to enjoy life.''
'Our foster carers do a tremendous job and Pat is a shining example of that.'
Councillor Kieran Heakin, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, said: "Pat is an inspiration and we are really proud that she's won this award. Our foster carers do a tremendous job and Pat is a shining example of that. I hope Pat's wonderful story inspires others to come forward and take up the rewarding role of being a foster carer with us."
Pat collected the award at The Fostering Excellence Awards ceremony in London. The awards, now in their fifth year, recognise people who make exceptional contributions to foster care, whether they are social workers, foster carers, care experienced young people or the children of fostering families.
'We admire her tenacity, commitment and selflessness and congratulate her on this thoroughly well-deserved award.'
Kevin Williams, Chief Executive of The Fostering Network, said: "Foster carers across the UK come from a variety of backgrounds and from all age groups. Pat is a fantastic example of a carer who has dedicated the years after her birth children have left home to the care of children with really very profound complex needs. We admire her tenacity, commitment and selflessness and congratulate her on this thoroughly well-deserved award."
Pat's supervising social worker, Shamiso Nyanjowa, who nominated her, said: "Pat is a phenomenal human being. She has the ability just to get on with things and always has a smile for everyone.
Her commitment to being a foster carer is extraordinary - she has dedicated her life to the children in her care. We are so lucky to have Pat as a foster carer, she is one in a million."