MBE honour for Newhaven foster parents

Peter and Joan Rhodes, made MBE SUS-140624-092210001
Peter and Joan Rhodes, made MBE SUS-140624-092210001

An inspirational couple who have fostered 100 children were made Members of the British Empire (MBE).

Peter and Joan Rhodes, from Newhaven, said they were proud to have the honour.

Joan has been fostering children for 50 years, having first started taking in young people when she founded a nursery.

Two years after buying Four Winds, at 29, Joan’s former husband died and left her with a very large mortgage, her own two children and three foster children.

Her husband Peter joined in after they married and has been fostering for 35 years.

Their wedding was on a normal nursery day and they walked all 12 children to Newhaven Church for the ceremony and back afterwards.

The couple are still in touch with 35 children they gave a home to.

Peter, 65, of Pevensey Road, said: “My wife is an exemplary woman. It’s extremely challenging because a lot of the children have had very sad stories and very hard lives.

“We have got the biggest family in the world.

“All our children have identified very strongly as a family and resent the concept of a foster home.

“Even if they were not here at the same time they all know each other, support each other and visit each other even if one lives oversees. Obviously they also support us.”

Joan, 77, added: “I’m really delighted and proud.

“There are a lot of people doing fostering work, year in year out and they don’t get accolades.

“I’m very proud to represent the ‘man in the street’.”

Peter, who worked as a special needs teacher at Tideway School, said the prognosis for foster children generally was very poor.

He explained most left school with no education and added at the prison where he worked a lot of inmates had been foster children.

Peter said they had once fostered a boy who could not read or write, with people saying he would never be able to get a job but he has never been unemployed.

Joan added: “We have had a blessed life. The rewards come from our children.

“It’s just amazing. They have all achieved their potential.”

Another foster child arrived in a terrible state and has since been made an MBE, while another was abandoned by her parents but has succeeded in raising her own children extremely well.

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “We’d like to congratulate Mr and Mrs Rhodes on their award, which recognises the many years they have dedicated to fostering children.”