TOGETHER they have cared for some of the Capital’s most vulnerable children for a total of 250 years.
Long-serving carers across Edinburgh and the Lothians with more than 20 years’ service were rewarded by the city council for their dedication to children at a ceremony held at the City Chambers last night.
The celebration also recognised those who have undertaken extra qualifications as part of their professional development.
Among the 13 carers to be honoured was mother-of-two Heather Doig, who has been a day carer for two decades.
The 53-year-old from North Berwick said: “I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. There have been ups and downs, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and the children are like family for me.
“I started when my son was three years old. It was meant to be temporary and a bit of company for him until he started school, but that just never happened. I could never give it up.
“The children are all great, I love working with them.
“It’s nice when you see them come in with problems and, bit by bit, it starts smoothing out and they turn into happy wee bairns, with a bit of love and consistency.”
Also receiving a long-service award were husband and wife Paddy and Toni Welsh, who live in Balerno.
They have been foster carers for almost 22 years and recently watched one of the children previously in their care graduate from Strathclyde University.
Mrs Welsh, 62, a part-time home help, said they had fostered almost 20 boys over the years.
The mother-of-one said: “It has been very challenging but also very rewarding. The most rewarding thing is to see them leave here on a positive note and go on to make something of their lives.
“We just hope they take a wee bit of what we have tried to teach them away with them.”
Foster carers, day carers, share the carers, respite carers and befrienders were all present at the ceremony and were treated to music from Anna McLuckie, a student at the City of Edinburgh Music School.
Edinburgh’s children and families leader, Councillor Marilyne MacLaren, said: “I am delighted to be able to thank our carers for the important work they do, day in day out, to make a difference to the lives of some of the city’s most vulnerable children.
“We have hundreds of carers who provide an invaluable service but, like any job, people can’t do it forever and we continually need more people to come forward. I would encourage anyone interested to take the next step and get in touch.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about caring with the city council should call 0800 174 833, or visit www.edinburgh.gov.uk/fostering.