A couple who have provided a loving home for foster children for more than 40 years were given a special thank you.

Friends and family of Val and Derek Wilson from Bratton gathered to celebrate their commitment and love to all their foster children over the years.

After first a fostering a baby in 1975, and providing her with a loving home until she was ready to fly the nest, they cared for three groups of siblings, each on a long term basis one after the other, who also remained with them from the time they arrived until they were ready to leave home as adults.

Mr and Mrs Wilson said: We’re so proud of all our children. We feel we’ve raised four families of children - our own and three foster families. However it wouldn’t have been possible to do this without the support of our family and we’re extremely grateful for that.”

The couple went on to adopt four of the children who were originally placed with them, and all of the children remain part of their huge and expanding family.

Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children said: “Val and Derek will have played an enormously important role in helping shape many young people’s lives for the better by offering them a loving home.

“We are grateful for all their wonderful work over the years and I hope their inspirational story will encourage more people to consider fostering.”