'The children are the heroes - not us'

Couple awarded for fostering

Dave and Dawn - Credit: Submitted

A Torbay couple awarded the Freedom of the Borough having spent 44 years fostering more than 70 children insisted: “The children are the heroes, not us.” 

Dave and Dawn Barnett, from Chelston in Torquay, were honoured with the award - which is only given in ‘exceptional circumstances’ - at a virtual ceremony. 

The couple, both in their 70s, have been approved foster carers since 1978 and have looked after more than 70 children and young people, sometimes for up to three at once. 

Torbay mayor Maggi Douglas-Dunbar said: “The short and long-term positive impact this remarkable couple have made cannot be truly measured.” 

The couple say: “We feel honoured and privileged to receive this award and realise it reflects the dedication of all Foster Carers who strive to make a difference to the lives of looked after children here in Torbay.    

“We have loved our years of fostering and have always been well supported by Children's Services.   

“Many of the children became part of our extended family and have children of their own and it has been a great blessing to see them become loving and caring parents themselves.   We are often humbled when we see children who have experienced much sadness in their own lives being kind to others.  They are our little heroes.” 

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Dave added: “We are thrilled that we have received the award. We think it’s fantastic, although it’s not really about us it’s about the children and changing their lives for the better and we hope that in some cases we have.  

“If we had our time again, we would definitely foster – we have loved it”. 

Dawn said: “This award is in appreciation of all the foster carers in the Bay. We would also like to praise children’s services. A lot of their children now they have their own children and we have been to weddings which is nice. it has been wonderful. It has been our life and we have made all these wonderful memories. The children are the heroes.” 

Cllr Nicole Amil, chairman of the civic committee, said: “They are a truly remarkable and inspirational team who have gone above and beyond.” 

A formal presentation will take place later in the year once all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. 

For information on fostering contact Torbay’s Fostering team on 01803 207845 or email fostering@torbay.gov.uk