A couple from Hemyock have received a Devon County Council Foster Care Award to mark their 10 years of caring for children. Janice and David Bawler of South View, Hemyock, received their award, along with other long-serving foster carers, at a ceremony held at County Hall, Exeter, on Wednesday. They have been fostering since October 1996, having decided to sign up after hearing an appeal on the radio.
Janice said: "It was something we'd spoken about doing for a while, and decided to go for it. It's been a steep learning curve; every child brings their own difficulties that they have experienced, so each one has to be treated as an individual."
They are still in contact with their first foster child. He celebrated his 18th birthday last year, and they were invited to a surprise party in his honour.
Janice said: "We were very touched to be invited and are extremely fond of him."
The couple have raised two children of their own, Rebekah, now a teacher in Cardiff, and Matthew, who works in an opticians in Weston-Super-Mare.
They are currently looking after three girls, taking their fostering total to 28 children since they began.
Janice, a regular news correspondent for the Gazette, said: "No matter what your experiences with your own children have been, with those you foster you have to react to their needs accordingly.
"Whether they are with you for a couple of days or are on a long-term placement, you have to give them a safe, stable and loving environment."
Some of the children are placed with foster carers because their parents or guardians have had to go into hospital; others are placed for the long-term because it is not safe for them to remain in their current home.
Janice said: "There are so many children in the most dire circumstances, who, through no fault of their own, have to go into care. It's about giving them security, and it's a pleasure to see them flourish."
Anyone considering becoming a foster parent has to go through a series of assessments before being registered with the county council.
Janice said: "Foster carers are desperately needed, there are never enough. I would recommend to anyone to have a look into it, even if they don't end up going through with it."
For more information on fostering ring 0845 115 1013 or visit the website www.devon.gov.uk/fostering