TWO foster carers in Weymouth have been awarded MBEs after looking after more than 150 children over a 43-year period.

Kath and Roy Shayler were recognised in this year’s New Year’s Honours List for providing a loving and caring foster home for children.

Kath and Roy, originally from Wolverhampton, were passed for fostering in 1972 by the city’s council shortly after the birth of their second child.

Since then, the family has not looked back, and despite having four more of their own children, they have continued to foster throughout the years constantly increasing the size of their family.

In 1992, the couple bought a holiday home in Weymouth, and Kath admits that when they first arrived they caused a bit of a shock.

She said: “The first time we came to visit the house we were using a 15-seater minibus which seated 10 children, seven foster children and three of our own.

“To say the neighbours looked ‘startled’ was an understatement!”

The couple decided to move permanently to the town in 1993, but changed their status from short-term carers to long-term carers so that they could still work for Wolverhampton Social Services.

This meant that they would still foster children from the West Midlands city, but look after them in Weymouth.

Kath said: “You have to have certain qualities to become a foster carer, patience, understanding, caring, and loving being just a few.

“It can also be quite traumatic at times, when children that you have cared for over a number of years move on for adoption, it is heart-breaking.

“But, overall to see a child grow in confidence and stability and for them to become secure and be loved is a reward in itself.”

Now, Kath and Roy have passed on the fostering bug to other members of their family. Kath’s sister has signed up to become a foster carer, as has their son Steven and his wife Ceri.

Kath said: “Our own children have never known a home without foster children there to share everything, including their mum and dad.

“We have been lucky as this experience has made them the caring adults that they are today and they have been so supportive over the years.”

To celebrate their MBEs, all of the family went out for a slap-up meal to congratulate the couple.

Kath added: “To receive this award is such an honour for us, as we feel we have been rewarded for something that has given us nothing but pleasure over the years and for us is a way of life and always will be, yet we have been rewarded so generously.

“We are still fostering and hope to continue for many more years to come.”