While most people would have their hands full with three children, Violet Lord has fostered more than 100 children over the past 40 years.
After raising 15 babies to adulthood, Violet is well in the running as she takes her place as finalist in the NSW Grandparent of the Year Awards to be announced on Sunday, October 25.
At age 82, Violet, along with husband John, 87 still continue to open their home to foster children.
“We’ve still got a 20-year-old and a 40-year-old at home who we fostered as a baby,” Violet said.
Violet and John have two of their own children, Stephen and Christine but tragically lost twins in the early 1950’s.
“We started fostering when Stephen was only a baby- I just wanted children,” Violet said.
While she’s “lost count” of how many children have been fostered, Violet said many children arrived through police work.
“At one stage we had five babies under two in the house,” she said.
“We have a big hall and there were cots all the way down it.”
While some children only stay for short periods of time, Violet said losing two children after caring for them for eight years was particularly difficult.
“We thought we had them for life but one of them the father arrived at school and took him away and the other ones mum did the same,” she said.
John said hearing from the boy years later was bittersweet.
“We got a call years later from Goulburn prison and it was him and he told me ‘if my father had left me with you I wouldn’t be in here,” he said.
“We found out he never went to school again after he was taken away.”
Violet said the key to raising so many children came down to one very important thing.
“Stick to your word, that’s what you have to do,” she said.
“And they have to have good manners and go to school.”
With 13 siblings, Violet had plenty of opportunity to practise her parenting growing up, while John was an only child. After meeting at the cafe Violet was waitressing in, her father predicted their future.
“He was a very strict man but he said to me when I went to her house, ‘you’ll marry her,’ John said.
“We married when she was 18 years old.”
Along with caring for their children, John and Violet have been arriving at Nowra East Public every morning for the last 12 years, serving breakfast to more than 100 children every day.
“The children really love it, they can talk to us all they like,” Violet said.
“East Nowra is a very good school.”
Violet was nominated for the award by teacher Miss Bri, who said she deserves the honour.
“She’s the most selfless person and I just think that the reach of her generosity is something to celebrate,” she said.
“She’s been at the school as long as I’ve been here and she works tirelessly.”
Miss Bri said Violet’s role in both the school and wider community is significant.
“When I first started here in 2007 there were six or seven kids here, all unrelated that called her nan because they had all lived with her at some point.”
“She’s a huge part of the community.”
The NSW Grandparent of the Year Awards, organised by Council on the Ageing NSW on behalf of the NSW Government, recognises the contribution and important role of grandparents and older members of the community.
The awards will be announced, fittingly, on Grandparents Day. Grandparents Day was launched in 2011 as an annual initiative to recognise the unique role that grandparents play in our communities.
Families are encouraged to celebrate with their grandparents on Grandparents Day.