A Bury St Edmunds woman has received recognition for her ‘hard work and dedicated service’ in fostering more than 250 children.
Sheila Cornish and her late husband Kerry began fostering youngsters after having two of their own children, Chris and Sharon. They also adopted their daughter Mandy, became ‘special guardians’ of a boy named Oliver and offered respite care to adults.
Kerry, nicknamed Mr West Bury for his involvement in the West Bury Social Club and Community Centre, passed away in May after a short battle with cancer.
This week, borough councillor Clive Springett presented Sheila with a letter of ‘condolences and sincere gratitude’ from MP Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education.
It came after Cllr Springett wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron, with the support of Bury MP Jo Churchill.
In the letter, Mrs Morgan said: “I would like to thank you in recognition of the hard work and dedicated service that you and Mr Cornish have provided to over 250 children for more than 40 years as foster parents and adopters.
“You have both provided an invaluable and immeasurable service to your community, fostering children with challenging backgrounds, physical disabilities and special educational needs.
“I hope that you will look back fondly and with pride over the way you and your husband have touched the lives of so many people.”
Admittedly ‘very proud’, Sheila said: “I was a bit shocked really because I wasn’t sure how to take it with losing Kerry so recently, but it was a lovely gesture. It was very much a partnership with him and me, it is a dreadful loss,” she added.
Chris, who asked for Cllr Springett’s help initially, said his dad would have been proud.
He added: “Mum’s not one of those people who wants to be put on a pedestal, she did it because she loved doing it.”
Mandy said: “This has put a smile on mum’s face. It’s great.”
Cllr Springett said he was ‘honoured’ to play a part in getting formal recognition for the town’s ‘unsung heroes’.
He said: “I think they’re wonderful people.
“To take children who haven’t had the best start in life, through no fault of their own, and be willing to take them in as one of their family, provide for them and teach them right from wrong, is a wonderful thing to do.”