It's been an extra-special Christmas for this week’s Local Hero winners – it was their first as foster carers.

Keith and Diane, from Brighton, first started thinking about becoming foster carers two years ago. They got in touch with Brighton and Hove City Council’s fostering team and now they are looking after two young children.

“We were what you might call empty nesters,” said Diane. “We’ve got three of our own children, but only one still lives at home now.

“I felt I still had lots of love and affection to offer younger children. We talked it through with our birth children and they’ve all been really supportive.”

Keith works at The Grand hotel in Brighton, but for Diane being a foster carer is a full-time role.

She said: “It’s good to be able to be at home and be there full-time for the children we look after.

“For me the allowances we get from the council for looking after the children make fostering a viable alternative to a traditional job.”

Diane and Keith have been looking after their foster children for most of this year, and were full of excitement about spending their first Christmas with them.

Keith said: “We had to put some thought into what presents to give them.

“They may not have had what you might call a ‘proper’ Christmas before, so we don’t want to overwhelm them – but at the same time we want them to have nice things.”

The training Diane and Keith received from the council’s fostering team was “extremely thorough”, the pair said.

Diane found learning about the psychology of attachment and helping children from different backgrounds particularly interesting.

She said: “It’s gone really well so far. So much of it is about teaching our foster children a sense of normality – encouraging good habits and establishing basic routines that they maybe didn’t have before, such as at school time or bedtime.

“We’ve been able to build good relationships with our foster children, and it’s wonderful to see them thriving.

“Sometimes it’s the simple things that can really make a difference. We bought them some wellies and took them out for a walk with the dogs. They’d never had wellies before and spent all afternoon jumping in puddles.

“Or when we took them swimming for the first time. We couldn’t believe the sheer joy on their faces. It’s lovely to be able to share moments like that.”

Brighton and Hove City Council is always pleased to hear from people who may be interested in becoming foster carers.

To find out more about fostering in Brighton and Hove, phone the council’s fostering team on 01273 295444, email or visit