A St Helens woman who stepped in to look after her grandchildren has been recognised at an awards ceremony.
Jacky Kirwin, from Parr, was honoured for her commitment and dedication in caring for her two young grandchildren after her daughter died.
I really don’t feel deserving of an award – for me the best reward is to see my grandchildren smiling and happy.Jacky Kirwin
She was given the Kinship Foster Carer Award at the annual FosterTalk Foster Carer Awards by Olympic silver medallist and former world sprinting champion Jamie Baulch, who was in care until he was adopted at six months old, and The Only Way Is Essex star Debbie Douglas, a government ambassador for fostering.
The FosterTalk awards highlighted how foster carers are fundamental in turning young people’s lives around.
This year’s event was opened by Edward Timpson, Minister of State For Vulnerable Children And Families.
Jacky was nominated for the award by her supervising social worker at St Helens Council, Debra Wilkinson, who praised the 51-year-old for putting her own grief aside to care for her two grandchildren.
Jacky said: “I really don’t feel deserving of an award – for me the best reward is to see my grandchildren smiling and happy. That’s all I want. It has been a very difficult time for our family, but we’re so grateful for all of the support we receive from Debra and her team.”
Debra said: “Jacky is so deserving of this award. She has ensured their needs were always at the forefront of every decision, despite this being such a devastating time for her.
“Her commitment to maintaining the children’s relationships with their paternal family has been very important to Jacky. She has ensured her grandchildren continue to have weekly contact and fun activities with their dad and half siblings, as well as their paternal grandmother.
“These children have had to deal with a terrific loss at such a young age and Jacky has sought out extensive training in order to develop her knowledge to support them, as they begin to understand their life story in more detail. They are flourishing in her care.”
Melody Douglas, managing director of FosterTalk, said: “Working with foster carers every day, we see the enormous commitment and positive difference they make to the children and young people in their care. We’re delighted to be presenting these awards for the third consecutive year to shine a light on some of the inspiring achievements of foster carers across the UK and celebrate the work that all carers do to give the children in their care a safe, stable home and access to life-changing opportunities.
“We had hundreds of entries which made it very hard for our judges, but this award for Jacky is well deserved. We hope that stories like Jacky’s inspire other people to consider becoming foster carers too.”
To find out more about fostering, call 01744 671199, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sthelens.gov.uk/fostering.