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The mother of all carers

PUBLISHED: 12:03 19 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:21 25 August 2010

MUM’S THE WORD: Brenda Walkington, 63, and her husband Reg, 65, have fostered 84 children.

MUM'S THE WORD: Brenda Walkington, 63, and her husband Reg, 65, have fostered 84 children.

SUPERMUM Brenda Walkington is not expecting just the one Mothers Day card this Sunday.

SUPERMUM Brenda Walkington is not expecting just the one Mothers Day card this Sunday.

After 34 years of fostering, the 63-year-old of Shakespeare Road, Bexleyheath could have as many as 84 cards posted from children she has looked after to mark the special day.

Mrs Walkington and her husband Reg, 65, have cared for children aged from 'nought to 18' including youngsters with disabilities - two of whom she has adopted - as well as bringing up their biological son Stephen.

Mrs Walkington said: "I never forget a child's name but I can get their dates of birth mixed up. I don't get cards from all of them on Mothers Day, some of them have made new lives and disappeared or gone abroad, which is as it should be.

"But we do get lots of cards and bunches of flowers and chocolates, probably more than most families.

"As I have not replaced their mothers, I often get a card to 'someone special' or 'someone just like a mother' because I am not their natural mother."

Mr and Mrs Walkington decided to foster when their son was four after several failed pregnancies.

As their family expanded over the years, they had to move from their three-bedroom terraced house and now live in a six bedroom semi-detached with a loft extension.

"My son Stephen had to share me and his home all these years with other children and adapted to that," said Mrs Walkington. "Sometimes we would ask a lot of him, but he has learnt a lot through it by seeing what other children go through."

Now, after 84 children staying with them, sometimes for as long as 18 years, the couple plan to retire after bringing up their two long-term foster daughters.

She said: "We do plan to retire - if you ever can! There is still always someone here visiting here - one of our lads was adopted but sadly his mother passed away, so we are always here to support him. He comes over fortnightly and for holidays and we get to visit one of our other lads too.

"They keep in contact with us when they need to. Some have got mums and some haven't got mums so they are always part of our family if they need us."

Her contribution to fostering was given a top accolade in 2000 when she was handed an MBE. But Mrs Walkington said that fostering is just part of her life.

She added: "It keeps me young, you stay the same when you are doing things with children, you're rushing around and playing with them rather than putting your feet up and vegetating watching the television!"

kate.mead@archant.co.uk

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