A HUSBAND and wife from Nidderdale have been presented with an MBE for services to children following more than two decades of the couple providing a home and refuge to some of society's most vulnerable youngsters.
(From left) Steve Leahy, Chris and Katie Stark, and Lord
Chris and Katie Stark, from Summerbridge, near Pateley Bridge, have been foster carers for an amazing 23 years and received their award from the Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Lord Crathorne.
"Becoming foster carers has been the most challenging, exciting and rewarding task we have ever undertaken," said Chris.
"It has brought us a rich involvement with a wide range of children, their parents and wider families.
"We have received excellent support, encouragement and training from North Yorkshire County Council's Social Services and their dedicated team of Social Workers and support staff. Without that resource behind us, we would never have got through the difficult times which come, when you are trying to help some of the most needy children and families in our society.
"Foster care is a vital provision for families in crisis and children at risk. It has been a privilege for us and our family to be involved in the provision of such a vital service."
Becoming foster carers has been the most challenging, exciting and rewarding task we have ever undertaken
Chris Stark - Foster carer
County councillor Caroline Patmore, executive member with responsibility for adult and community services, said: "I really think this is fantastic news. People who do this work deserve public recognition.
"It is a very rewarding job in itself but the public know little about it and this is a way of raising awareness of the excellent work done by people who foster and care for our children in North Yorkshire."
Steve Leahy, Fostering Service Manager for Fostering NorthYorkshire said "It's undoubtedly a great personal honour for Chris and Katie to receive this award, but it's also a tremendous honour for fostering services in general and Fostering North Yorkshire in particular."