Inspirational stories of Leeds foster carer award winners

Leeds foster carers have been recognised and awarded for the selfless work they do looking after the city’s most vulnerable children, at a special awards ceremony organised by Leeds City Council.

In order to recognise those carers who go the extra mile, Leeds City Council organised the Child Friendly Leeds Foster Carer Awards for people who foster through the council, including kinship foster carers.

The awards were organised as part of the council’s pledge to be a child friendly city, to recognise and reward foster carers who have excelled in one of five areas, as well as celebrating those carers who have been helping the children of Leeds for a number of years.

A total of 56 nominations were received in the following categories:

• Supporting educational achievement

• Supporting healthy and active lifestyles

• Enabling transitions

• Supporting artistic development

• Personal development

The winners were selected by a panel which was made up of senior managers, members, young people and a representative from event sponsor, British Gas. The well deserving winners were presented with prizes, which had been donated by sponsors, by representatives from the council’s children’s services department, young people and council members.

At the ceremony the guests were also entertained by performances from DAZL dance, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, young magician Sebastian Walton, and First Floor.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children and families said:

“Our foster carers are an amazing bunch of people! The dedication and commitment they show to the most vulnerable children in our city is tremendous. It was fantastic to be able to present them with their awards and share our thanks for the work they do in often very challenging circumstances.

“The stories behind all of the nominations received were a great insight into the tireless work our foster carers do, and the winners were very well deserved.”

The winning foster carers for each category were:

Enabling Transitions: Catherine Smith

The nomination related to a specific piece of work Catherine undertook caring for two sisters; over the time of placement with Cath, the girls were transformed into happy, confident, loving and beautiful little girls. Cath managed to invest in the children but was also able to move them onto a successful adoptive placement. Cath not also supported tirelessly the girls in their adoption journey but opened her arms & home to her adopters. Their social worker stated that Cath “is an inspiration to all.”

Supporting Artistic Achievement: Sharon Bland

Sharon was nominated for a specific piece of work with a little boy in her care who presented many challenges and who eventually successfully moved onto a long term foster placement. The young boy was out of school for some time whilst in Sharon’s care and Sharon recognised that he loved singing & drumming. Sharon helped him to use these skills to de-escalate his behaviour when he got cross and angry, she enabled him to develop his creative talents and to feel good about himself.

Supporting Healthy Activities and Lifestyle: Jan Pulham

Jan has been a family placements carer since 1983. She has offered care on a short and long term basis and is presently caring for five children with severe learning difficulties. Her household is completed by her two adopted sons and an adult who was placed with Jan as a child. Jan was a special needs teacher and used her skills and experience in education to support her caring role. Jan does not allow any child’s individual difficulties to limit their life experiences and trips out and sporting opportunities are frequent. She cooks most of the family meals from scratch and encourages the children to eat healthily sitting around the table where conversation is facilitated. Jan is an amazing women and an excellent advocate for the children in her care.

Supporting Achievement in Education: Linda Revson

Linda and her husband Peter have been foster carers for Leeds for over 20 years. In that time, they have supported many young people in achieving their full educational potential with some achieving a university education. Linda advocates for the children in their care to have their potential recognise; she pursues this with marked determination. Linda creates a safe positive environment for the children in her care and ensures that they feel valued as part of her family. Linda sets a fantastic example for fostering that could be modelled for others.

Personal Development: Karen Scales

Karen is much understated as a foster carer and the excellent care she provides to some of the city’s most troubled children is often unrecognised. She has met every challenge with dedication and care, always working alongside other professionals to ensure the best outcome in all areas of the lives of any child placed with her. Recently Karen has been part of the evidence based ‘Keep’ programme run by the council’s Therapeutic Social work team. Karen has worked diligently and positively every week and embraces the techniques she has been taught for managing very difficult and distressing behaviour. The impact this has had on a very troubled child in enormous. In terms of personal development, Karen has pushed herself out of her comfort zone to work in a group work setting which to many would feel quite exposing. The children who have been in Karen’s care will take something very special into their adult lives from the experience of living with her.

Also at this week’s ceremony, people who have fostered through Leeds City Council for many years also received long-service awards including:

30 years

Linda and Paul Darby

25 years

Danyella Wilson

20 years

Marie Procter and Michael Van Norman

Denise and Donald Smith

15 years

Margaret and John Clark

Joanne and Stuart Best

10 years

Sharon and Andrew Jones

5 years

Leota and John Benjamin

Catherine Sullivan


Jackie and Dave Parris

Kathy Louca

Mandy and Ken Kitchen

Notes: Photos available on request


For media enquiries, please contact:

Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk