When Jacqueline Wilson and her partner Stephen Hoyle offered a helping hand to a friend they had no idea how their lives - and those of 100 youngsters - would change.
The Penwortham couple stepped in as temporary foster parents to help give a friend a break and despite having five children of their own between them, spent the past 10 years looking after more then 100 children in need of homes.
Now Jackie, 60, and Stephen, 54, have decided to retire from the role to spend more time with their grandchildren and each other.
Jackie, said: “We began fostering when friends of ours, who foster long term, asked us to provide respite for the children they look after.
“After going through the approval process we began looking after lots of different children and realised just how rewarding it can be.”
With five children of their own, Jackie has three birth sons and Steve has two daughters, all from previous relationships, aged between 33 to 40 years old - their families have always supported them in their decision to foster.
Jackie said; “We have thoroughly enjoyed the last 10 years as respite foster carers, but felt the time was right for us to take a step back,”
She added: “Fostering is hugely rewarding, the last 10 years have flown by and we’ve loved every minute.”
“We’ve looked after so many children, every one of them special.
“Even when they leave care they stay in your minds, and it’s lovely when they come back to visit, to tell you about their new job, or to introduce you to their own family.
Jackie, who relishes being a grandma, added:“Fostering is extremely rewarding, you meet children from all walks of life and it’s really satisfying watching them grow and seeing them achieve.
It can be challenging though, so you need to have a lot of patience, be understanding and be able to offer a sense of belonging and security to a child or young person.”
As well as providing respite foster care, Jackie also cares for elderly people and Stephen, 54, works as a gas engineer.
The couple have four grandchildren between them and although they don’t see themselves as surrogate grandparents to their foster children’s children, but enjoy it when they pop by to say hello or get in touch over the phone, which many of them still do, even after leaving care.
The couple were presented with a special award by Core Assets Fostering.to marked both their decade long dedication to fostering as well as retirement from the role.