Blackpool foster carers honoured with MBEs

Posted: Thursday 2nd April 2020

Diane and Carl Mitchell MBE

A Blackpool couple who have cared for more than 90 children during the last 20 years have both been awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours.

Carl and Diane Mitchell first registered as foster carers for Blackpool Council in 1999. 

Carl, a former competitive ice skater who trained with Torvill and Dean, and Diane, a former dancer, began fostering in Blackpool when their previous careers ended. 

They made the decision to start caring for vulnerable children when their own sons, now aged 24 and 25, were young.

Mr and Mrs Mitchell have been recognised for services to children and young people after being nominated by three youngsters that they had looked after.

They initially looked after young children but currently act as emergency fosterers for families in crisis. Diane also delivers training to social workers providing an insight into the daily lives of foster parents.

The couple want to use the honour to promote the benefits of fostering and help more young people in the town.

Speaking before she received the honour, Diane said: “We are so excited to be honoured in this way. We have both really enjoyed fostering over the years. Our driving force has always been to help children and treat each one as our own. 

“There were so many challenges but definitely more highs than lows – there’s nothing quite like it.

“When you can feel the love and know that you have a made a difference, it’s just the best feeling. Looking after the children and helping get families back together is the ultimate reward.”

Carl said: “We also feel both of our sons have greatly benefited from our fostering – our youngest won a scholarship to Eton and the other works in London.”

The couple have always felt that they could rely on the support from the experienced team whilst fostering in Blackpool.  

Diane said: “We have always felt very well supported by Blackpool Council.

“The family support team workers are amazing - the whole team know every child and carer. They can always be relied on and have been really helpful throughout. We would recommend fostering in Blackpool.”

After experiencing a traumatic upbringing which involved her parents splitting up, witnessing physical abuse directed from her mum to her sister and being sexually abused by two members of her own family, some people might be surprised that Diane chose to become a foster carer. But this only strengthened her resolve.

Diane explained: “This was my motivation: to show people that they can overcome their experiences and that life can be a really nice place to be.  

“I was a fighter and always have been. I knew that I could use what had happened to me to relate to children and young people who had been hurt in the background. I think that Carl was very surprised when I first raised the idea of becoming foster carers but we both have no regrets.”

Both Diane and Carl have proved to be a true inspiration to many children, foster carers and social workers over the years and we would like to say a very big thank you. To have made such a huge and invaluable difference to the lives of so many children is truly humbling.

Thank you Diane and Carl!

For more information on fostering, visit www.blackpool.gov.uk/fostering