A Llanllyfni couple have recently retired after a quarter of a century as foster carers, having welcomed more than 50 children into their home over the years.
Victor and Glenys Chocalingum have been fostering since 1989 and gave respite care to children with disabilities in earlier years.
Having a sense of humour and taking the children as they come has been the secret of their success, according to the couple, who also have three daughters, two grandchildren and a great-grandchild of their own.
Glenys and Victor first met when they were both nursing in Liverpool – Glenys at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Victor at Walton Hospital. When they returned to Llanllyfni to live they first became involved with caring for children.
Glenys said: “I missed nursing and working with children, but I couldn’t really get a nursing job at Bangor as I didn’t drive. I saw an advert asking for people who could care for disabled children over the weekends so that their parents could have respite and we decided to get involved. That was back in 1981.
“Then we got into fostering in 1989. There must have been 50 or 60 children who have stayed with us – some for just a couple of hours, others for months and years. The youngest was a six hour-old baby.”
Victor added: “The important thing was always make sure the child felt safe and comfortable. The only thing that was important to us was that the child was happy and not afraid.
“We always treated all the children as if they were our own – we always took them out and took them on holiday with us.”
The couple said that they would encourage others to consider fostering, and their own daughter has been a foster carer for 15 years.
“It’s very rewarding,” said Victor. “We were always so pleased to see the children develop. We are still in touch with lots of them and love to see where they are now.”
There are currently 190 children in foster care in Gwynedd as their own families are unable to look after them for a variety of reasons. Foster care may be needed for a few days or for longer spells and some for more than a year.
There are 96 registered foster parents in Gwynedd who open up their homes so that children have safe and secure places to live and grow up. Without them, many young people would have to move away from their home, extended family, friends and school to be brought up.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, contact Gwynedd Council’s Fostering Team on 01286 682660 or firstname.lastname@example.org