A foster carer who has dedicated her life to bringing up more than 400 children has retired – and she jetted off to Cyprus to celebrate.
Chris Hester, 68, has fostered children since 1971 and having passed on her final child, she jetted off to Cyprus - her first proper holiday in 43 years.
Mum-of-two Chris, who lives in Glebe Drive, Brackley, even fostered four children while going through chemotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40s.
She said: “I just thought I’m still here, I want to continue as best I can, as normal.
“But as I always say, there’s always room for one more.
“It’s really worthwhile to see them grow up and help them to do things they would never had the chance to do.”
Chris took on her first child when living in Harrow, while working for the post office.
She continued fostering when she moved to Brackley in 1987 and has done so ever since.
Chris was inspired to start by one of her mum’s friends who was a carer. She did some nannying aged 16 and knew immediately that she wanted to foster for as long as she could.
She said: “If you love children and you’ve got their interests at heart, it’s very rewarding. The attachment thing is important, they need it and yes, it can be hard when they go.
“But if it’s done properly, you work with the new person. It’s sad to see them go but we have to do what is best for the child.
Christine said she would absolutely recommend fostering but explained it does present challenges.
“They do ask questions about their situation,” Chris said. “But it’s part and parcel of it. You answer your own children’s questions so it’s just the same.”
In 2012, Chris was cherry-picked to carry the Olympic torch through Wellingborough for her loyal service.
Her daughter Karen Young, 30, said: “My mum has been through so much but still she always puts other first.
“The children become part of her family and are treated exactly the same way
“My mum gives all her time to fostering and I am so proud of her.
“She has a heart of gold and has so much love to give to children.”
Chris, who will continue to care for her mum Laura, 93, is now looking forward to more holidays with partner Arthur, 67.
She also hopes to spend more time with Karen, her son Mark, 45, and her grandchildren who all live in Brackley too.
Heather Smith, Northants County Council cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Chris has been one of our most valued foster carers for almost 30 years, offering a home to some very vulnerable children in their time of need.
“The difference she has made to these children’s lives cannot be over-estimated.
“I would like to offer my own heartfelt thanks for the immeasurable contribution she has made to the council’s fostering service.”
The county council is looking for more people like Chris, who can offer short or long-term foster care to children in need.
Information can be found at www.fosterme.co.uk