This evening, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attended the Fostering Network’s Excellence Awards, to recognise and celebrate outstanding achievement in fostering.
The evening at BMA House, London, began with a special tea party for young people, foster carers, social workers and care leavers. The Duchess circulated the room, meeting with those who were to receive awards, and those there to support the event.
Prior to the awards ceremony, Kate, in an electric blue dress by Indian desginer Saloni, received two quilted blankets for her children , Prince George and Princess Charlotte, from youngsters Rowan and Amber.
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The Helping Hands Quilting Group was started by a foster carer, Terrance Gilbert, to give children in care and foster care a childhood momento. It was under his watchful eye that the gifts were created for the Duchess.
In a foreword for the evening’s programme, the 33-year-old Duchess said: “It is fantastic that we are all gathered this evening to celebrate fostering and the truly transformational care that is a lifeline to so many. The people we will hear about tonight are truly extraordinary and show how good foster care changes children and young people’s lives.”
The Duchess of Cambridge first came into contact with fostering in January, when she visited The Fostering Network.
Catherine’s task for the evening was to present the Fostering Achievement Award, given to those aged 16-24 in foster care for extraordinary achievements in the last year. Adam, Sian and Emily were the recipients: Adam, who is autistic, continues to help foster mum Carol with the babies she takes in, who often have complicated medical needs. Emily has overcome a traumatic childhood and is on her way to becoming a paramedic, while Sian, in and out of care for six years until she was nine, has turned her life around from getting in trouble with the police, to being part-time carer for her real mother, also working carer for the elderly during in the summer.
Kate then gave a speech: “It is wonderful to meet so many inspiring people involved in the incredibly important world of fostering.”
The Crown Chronicles reported on the Duchess’ decision to make more speeches this weekend. Journalists in the room noted she seemed more confident speaking.
Other awards include the Fostering Achievement for Education Award, to celebrate academic achievements of a young person in care, Outstanding Contribution by a Foster Carer Award, as well as Outstanding Contribution by Sons and Daughters Award, for the children of foster carers who have supported their parents or fostered ‘siblings’.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: “The Duchess will be presenting an award to three young people who have shown how far determination, a good attitude, and proper support and stability can get you.
“Sadly not every young person has a positive start in life, but The Fostering Network, foster carers and all those involved in working with fostered young people throughout the UK will continue to strive to make life better for them.”
Awards host Holly Willoughby commented: “It’s been incredibly humbling to be meeting so many amazing foster carers, their families and care-experienced young people who have achieved so much despite the enormous obstacles that have been in their way.”