‘Beau­ti­ful soul’ gets MBE for fos­ter­ing

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE - MARK LAV­ERY NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT ■ Email: mark.lav­[email protected]­me­dia.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

SO­CI­ETY: Finding her­self home­less at the age of 11 and en­dur­ing a trau­matic child­hood was the in­cen­tive that Lor­raine Long needed to help as many trou­bled chil­dren as she could through­out her adult life.

And Mrs Long’s work over the past 36 years to foster up to 600 chil­dren saw her col­lect her MBE yesterday.

FINDING HER­SELF home­less at the age of 11 and en­dur­ing a trau­matic child­hood was the in­cen­tive that Lor­raine Long needed to help as many trou­bled chil­dren as she could through­out her adult life.

And Mrs Long’s tire­less work over the past 36 years to foster up to 600 chil­dren saw her col­lect her MBE yesterday from Prince Wil­liam at Buck­ing­ham Palace.

The grand­mother-of-two, 59, started fos­ter­ing aged 21 and has cared for up to 600 chil­dren from pe­ri­ods as short as overnight stays to as long as 11 years.

Prince Wil­liam awarded Mrs Long her MBE dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the palace in Lon­don yesterday af­ter she was named in the Queen’s Birth­day Hon­our’s List in the sum­mer for her ser­vices to chil­dren and fam­i­lies..

Mrs Long, from Tin­g­ley, Leeds, who fos­ters with her hus­band, Philip, 68, said: “I was ner­vous, but it all went well.

“This award high­lights all of the good work that foster car­ers do.”

Sean Dir­rane, 31, had lit­tle ed­u­ca­tion and was a trou­bled 11-yearold when he went into Mrs Long’s care.

He left her care when he was aged 18 to study for a sports sci­ence de­gree at the for­mer Leeds Metropoli­tan Univer­sity and now runs his own com­pany.

His busi­ness, Cos­mos En­gage­ment, sup­ports univer­si­ties with gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives to help stu­dents from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds progress to higher ed­u­ca­tion.

Mr Dir­rane, of Rawdon, wrote in sup­port of Mrs Long’s MBE nom­i­na­tion, stat­ing: “Lor­raine showed love where I had lost hope. She was consistent when I had al­ways ex­pe­ri­enced in­con­sis­tency, she was warm and ap­proach­able when I had al­ways been fear­ful of adults.”

A woman who was cared for by Mrs Long from the age of 14, wrote: “This lady, more than any I have ever en­coun­tered, de­serves to be recog­nised for the love she shares daily. She’s an ab­so­lute hero and a beau­ti­ful soul.”

The woman, who works as a mental health sup­port worker, added: “The sup­port and kind­ness she showed me was phe­nom­e­nal.

“She was pa­tient and calm with me. She of­fered guid­ance and sup­port when I needed it and showed me love which I had never fully re­ceived and it was an un­con­di­tional love that I hadn’t ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore.”

Mrs Long’s mother, Elizabeth, com­mit­ted sui­cide at the age of 32 in the mid-1960s when Mrs Long was just five years old.

Mrs Long said her late fa­ther sub­jected her to phys­i­cal abuse and she ran away from home at the age of 11.

She said: “I had a re­ally bad child­hood and had to fend for my­self.

“I brought my­self up. I went from house to house and lived on the streets.

“Fos­ter­ing was just some­thing that I wanted to do. There was no­body there for me when I was grow­ing up and I just thought if I could be there for oth­ers then they will have a chance in life.

“I didn’t re­alise just how much of an im­pact I have had on the chil­dren.

“I just do what I do. Kids are mis­un­der­stood in a lot of ways. If you just take time to speak to them and un­der­stand what they are go­ing through then they re­ally can come good.”

Mrs Long, who works as a con­tract man­ager for clean­ing com­pany Premier Sup­port Ser­vices, trav­elled to Lon­don yesterday with 15 fam­ily and friends, in­clud­ing her grand­chil­dren, Mol­lie, aged 12, and eight-year-old Lexie, and four foster chil­dren.

Mr Long, a re­tired hu­man re­sources di­rec­tor, put his wife for­ward for the MBE.

He said: “I think what she has done is in­cred­i­ble.”

Carer has given a home to hun­dreds of chil­dren She’s an ab­so­lute hero and a beau­ti­ful soul. A woman cared for by Lor­raine Long as a teenager writes in sup­port of her MBE.

PIC­TURE: PA

LATIN LESSONS: Pro­fes­sor Mary Beard with the Duke of Cam­bridge. The his­to­rian and broad­caster has been made a Dame.

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