Orphanage old boys reunite to inspire potential foster carers
Two former residents of a Ribble Valley orphanage returned to their childhood home ahead of Foster Care Fortnight to call on people from across Lancashire to consider fostering.
Trevor Booth and Peter Woodmansey, who are both in their eighties lived at the orphanage in Wilpshire in the 1940s and say their time there transformed their lives for the better.
And now they want to encourage people to make a difference to children’s lives by fostering with Child Action Northwest (CANW), the charity the orphanage evolved into.
Trevor, who was left at the orphanage as an 18-month-old in 1934, said: “Childcare has gone through a lot of changes and there’s no place for the sort of institution Peter and I were brought up in, its outdated now. CANW is doing the work they began when they started out as the orphanage more than 100 years ago, but in a different, modern way.
“It’s so important for children who need a loving home to be fostered. The orphanage transformed my life and now I want to encourage people who are thinking about becoming foster carers to work with CANW to transform the lives of children today.”
Peter, who lived at the orphanage between the ages of nine and 11, still pays regular visits to CANW each year from his home in Darlington.
He added: “I visit twice a year, at Easter and Christmas. It still feels like home to me, I was happy here. The orphanage gave me a better chance at life and although times have changed it’s good to know they still do that for children today.”
After leaving the orphanage at 16, Trevor set up his own construction business and went on to marry and have three children. He remained close to Tom and Lily Street, the superintendent and matron of the orphanage, eventually coming to call them "mum" and "dad". He was responsible for organising the Orphanage Cup football tournament for more than 40 years.
Peter went on to work for Darlington council for 35 years, and as a street sweeper became a much loved figure in the town. Earlier this year he received a Pride of the North East for his contribution to life there.
Sue Cotton, CEO of CANW, said: “We’re always happy to welcome back former orphanage residents and foster children to CANW. For Peter and Trevor living here as children was a positive, life changing experience and that’s what our foster care team achieve for every child we work with today.
“Foster care doesn’t just transform a child’s life, it transforms the lives of the carers who look after them too. Our carers tell us they get a real sense of achievement from seeing the children they care for gain confidence and grow and we’re here to support them every step of the way.
“CANW has been transforming lives since the orphanage was founded in 1886 and working with our foster carers we hope to change the lives of many more.
“We hope that Peter and Trevor’s stories will encourage people across the North West to think about whether they could offer a child a safe and loving home.”
“We’re always looking for new foster carers to join our team, and anyone interested in becoming a foster carer can find out more by calling CANW on 0800 0800 634 5300 or visitingwww.canw.org.uk/fcf18."