And this week we’re focussing on a category that cares for one of the most vulnerable groups in our society – Foster Families.
Without foster carers who are willing to welcome vulnerable children into their homes, these kids would be so much worse off.
The three couples on our Foster Families shortlist are amazing examples of the selfless people who give up so much to help children.
We’re sure you’ll agree they all deserve their place in the spotlight.
Betty and Ian Falconer – Caring come rain or shine
Most of us find having one or two children enough of a handful. Betty and Ian Falconer do have a couple of kids of their own – but that hasn’t stopped them from fostering exactly 103 children over many years.
Betty knows it’s 103 children – as she’s kept a book with their names in it and sometimes, she flicks through it and takes a wander down memory lane.
Betty and Ian’s lives have been dedicated to helping these kids in need – sometimes vulnerable, sometimes troubled, but always in need of the love, care and attention that they have provided.
In short, they’ve given a much-needed family home to kids who have been in desperate need of help.
This is despite the fact both Betty and Ian have been seriously ill. When Ian fell ill, they were looking after six children – and they continued to care for them throughout his treatment.
“Ian had a serious illness. But we kept the six placements we had at the time – because I always say they’re as good for me as I am for them,” Betty says.
Betty and Ian, of Newtown St Boswells, have worked hard at providing care for kids – and Betty believes seeing her foster kids flourish makes it all worthwhile.
“My rewards are seeing some of my foster children move on and have settled lives,” she says. “I have a lovely poem from one of my kids. She has a child of her own now and is doing well.”
And, while many of her foster kids have grown up, they still check in for advice.
“Whether it’s for information on cooking or money worries, or how to help with their own kids, they still need me. I can’t abandon them,” she says.
Robert and Valerie Brown – Creating happy adults
Robert and Valerie Brown have always loved children – Valerie has been a childminder – and decided fostering was the perfect way to help kids who might face real struggles in life.
Robert admits both he and Valerie have had their “ups and downs” since they began fostering in 2002 – and laughs they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now, 14 years on, the Cowdenbeath couple have helped many children through those ups and downs – seeing them grow into young adults leading happy, productive lives.
One young boy they fostered began self-harming.
“We had to help him through that,” says Robert, of Cowdenbeath. “But it’s always so satisfying to help them through their problems and out the other side.”
Many of their foster children are still in touch with them.
“One of our foster kids fell pregnant,” Robert says. “Well, that wee boy is about seven now and he calls Valerie and I granny and grandad! She’s about to have another baby and that is fantastic news.”
One special little girl, Leah, was fostered by Robert and Valerie when she was just a tiny baby.
“We went to pick her up one Saturday morning. She’s been with us ever since – in fact we adopted her!” he says proudly.
Maggie and Ian Taylor – Spreading joy for 25 years
Maggie Taylor says she’s overjoyed to be nominated for a Broons Award – especially because it’s recognition for fostering, something both she and husband Ian have been doing for more than two decades.
“We are very honoured to have been nominated,” she says. “It’s something we have enjoyed being involved with for the last 25 years.”
Maggie, who lives just outside MacDuff in Aberdeenshire, says the satisfaction of seeing foster kids go on to flourish is always special.
“Seeing them thrive, overcome their difficulties and go on to become independent adults is so rewarding,” she says. “And seeing children we have fostered happy with a new family and mums and dads who now have a child they have wanted for so long makes it worth it.”
It’s those events other families might sometimes take for granted that give Maggie pleasure, too.
“To see other foster children who have gone on to achieve the goals that they set out for – maybe going to college, getting a job or having their own children – is always a joy,” she says.
Of course, there have been challenges along the way. When an 18-month-old-girl arrived at Maggie and Ian’s, she had not experienced any stability, security or routine in her short life.
With love and care, Maggie and Ian changed the little girl into a happy, normal child. She was later adopted by another family.
For Maggie and Ian, that was reward in itself. And they remain in touch with her to this day.
The first Broons Awards ceremony is one of the ways we are celebrating the 80th birthday of The Broons, one of Scotland’s best-loved families.
Along with our proud supporters, we will celebrate the values of The Broons – care, compassion, laughs through life’s ups and downs and a sense of community in our fun-filled ceremony at Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel on March 10.
We will announce the winners of each category at the ceremony, hosted by Lorraine Kelly. It’s sure to be an amazing night!