Beryl Baker retires after fostering for 42 years
A local foster carer who has looked after more than 250 children has retired after nearly 42 years.
Published by Blackpool Fostering on
Beryl Baker, who lives in Poulton, first started fostering with her late husband, David, in 1967 when they answered an advertisement for foster carers in the local paper.
After falling pregnant with their son, Jonathon, they decided to take a break from fostering until 1980. Beryl was working as a nurse on the Outpatients unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital when they got a telephone call from Blackpool Council to ask if they could look after a toddler.
Beryl gave up her job to foster full-time and has since been celebrated as one of the council’s longest serving foster carers.
During this time, the couple tended to look after babies, toddlers and siblings but have also cared for primary school-aged children.
Commitment and support
Despite the loss of her husband David in 2014, Beryl remained committed to her role as a foster carer.
Beryl said: “I didn’t want to give up fostering when David passed away. I needed my life to carry on. I first started fostering because of my love for children and I wanted to improve the world – this has never changed.
“It’s everyone’s right to have a decent life and we wanted to look after children and give them the right start in life.
“Due to health reasons, David gave up work at an early age and this was a great help for me as we always had babies and young ones. My son, Jonathan, and daughter, Samantha, have also been a great help. You do need to have support as a foster carer. You rely on your support circle which is family or extended family.”
Beryl was born in Cheshire and trained as a nurse in Wallasey. After spending 15 months in Canada, Beryl became homesick and decided to sail home.
She met her husband on the ship from Montreal and once they were back in England, he turned up outside her home a week later!
Following a whirlwind romance, the couple got married and settled in David’s hometown of Poulton.
David owned the first wallpaper, paint and fancy goods shop in Poulton in the 1960s. During his lifetime, he also owned Poulton Cabs, was District Chairman of Scouts and spent time as Deputy Mayor of Wyre Council.
Royal Garden Party
The couple attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace due to David’s role as deputy mayor. Beryl also attended a second garden party in 2015 when she was nominated as a thank you for her contribution to changing the lives of so many children as a foster carer.
Beryl said: “This is one of my biggest highs for treasured memories. I was honoured to have been so well thought of by the nominator.
“One of the most rewarding parts of being a foster carer is watching the child develop and reach its milestones and then either possibly go back to their birth family or on to a successful adoption.
“These have been the happy times to remember. We never expected some families or children to keep in touch but they have done.
“Fostering isn’t an easy thing to do. You have to earn respect and have the stamina to stick up for yourself and your children. You can have fun but you have to be able to stand on your own two feet.
“I always wanted to make it clear to people that it’s not about making money. When we first started fostering, people seemed to think that we would be earning a fortune. We did it for love, not the money.
“If I had chance would I do it all over again? Definitely.”
Jonathan said: “We all love children as a family, so it just seemed normal to be a fostering family. I loved it growing up and was able to change a nappy when I was aged nine.
“Our lives didn’t change for my sister and I when we started fostering as my mum and dad made sure the children fitted into our lives. My parents were always firm but fair and soon got the children settled into a routine.”
We would like to thank Beryl and her family for the commitment and dedication that she has given to change the lives of so many children in Blackpool.
To dedicate 42 years caring for vulnerable children and providing them with a brighter future is inspirational. Enjoy your retirement, Beryl!
We are very fortunate to have such inspirational people fostering with Blackpool Council, but we urgently need more people who are willing to take on this rewarding challenge.
If you have been inspired by Beryl’s story, please get in touch with our friendly team and find out more.