Octogenarians Norma and Ian Scott have changed the lives of over 70 young people, from babies to 17 year olds. The Hampshire couple have been foster carers for over 30 years, providing a loving nurturing home for looked after children, sometimes overnight or two day emergency placements, and other times for years. They have changed the life stories for many children, here Norma shares her story.

“Ian and I have been married 37 years. Ian was divorced and had four grown children of his own – we now have five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren who fondly call me ‘Nanny Norma’, and I love them all. Sadly we were unable to have any more children. I miscarried in my 40s after contracting German measles and was unable to have a child of my own. A friend remarked that I was great with young people and suggested that I became a foster carer. “What’s that?” I asked. “You look after other people’s children,” they said. That planted the seed and we’ve never looked back.

“We applied in January 1987 and after numerous courses and visits from social workers, we were finally approved! Our first long term foster child Julia joined us aged 15 – she was very traumatised. She stayed with us until she was 19 when she moved in with her then boyfriend. She now has three lovely daughters and lives with her new partner. She’s great with her girls. When I told her what a wonderful mother she was, she smiled and replied, ‘You showed me that there was a life out there. I learnt from you.’ It melted my heart.

“David, another lad we fostered came to us as a very broken 14 year old, he just stared down at the carpet, would not eat or drink and refused to attend school for three years. He came from a very dysfunctional family. Gradually he began to trust us and opened up. He told me how hard his life had been. I said “You have a choice, you can do one of two things – say I’ve been dealt a terrible blow and the rest of the world is going to pay for it, or you can say no, and make life what you want it to be. He chose the latter.

“He’s now 35 and happily married. He built his own very successful business, drives a Porsche and is a qualified sky diver. He is living proof that everyone can turn their life around.

“When he got married he invited Ian and I to sit at the top table with him at the wedding. At the end of his speech he said, ‘Before I finish my ‘thank yous’, I want to tell everyone a little bit about my life – something not all of you know. I came from a very dysfunctional family. When I misbehaved my father used to threaten me with foster care which I thought was like prison. I was 14 and wanted to end my life. I’d like to say a very special thank you to my new forever mum and dad, Norma and Ian. If it hadn’t been for these two people I would not be here today – they turned my life around. Norma and Ian thank you! You will never know how much you were and are loved.’ Tears of joy welled up in my eyes. You never know at the time how much you will touch a young person by giving from the heart.

“As a foster carer you are always going to get the good and the bad. If you have the ability to lead by example, a good sense of humour and are non-judgemental even if you are pushed – it is the job for you. Would we recommend it? Yes. Ian and I have led a really fulfilling life. We continue to enjoy young people’s company and watching them grow and flourish. Even if it is just for a short period of time, it’s good to know that you have given them an interlude with normal family life, with no violence or hardship. As I said, whatever is broken in your heart you can mend it.

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. If I had had my own children would I have fostered? I don’t know… but if I hadn’t where would all these lovely young people be now? ”

If you would like to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable children and young people in your local community by becoming a foster carer, visit www.fostercarers.com today and start your highly rewarding fostering adventure!

* The names of the foster children and surname of the foster carers have been changed for safeguarding purposes.

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