A DEDICATED Colchester couple who have fostered ten children and raised two boys of their own have told their story in a bid to get others to do the same.

Eight years ago Sylvie Dambrine left her career in teaching to become a full-time foster carer after a distressing experience at her school.

Her life was changed when a teenager walked into her class one Monday with a black eye.

Mrs Dambrine said: “She was pregnant, had a black eye, and had been made homeless. I was pregnant too, at the same crossroads.

“But I was 33, had a career and a home. And yet I, as a teacher, couldn’t even hug her. My heart ached. I had to do more.”

Since then, with the support of her husband, Franck, she has helped raise ten foster children as well as sons Matthieu, 14, and Theo, 11.

Mrs Dambrine said: “It is the most demanding and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. When you see the children grow and blossom under your roof; when you see angry, miserable, tormented children become more balanced, happy, and achieving their full potential – it makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing.

“It also makes me feel sad some children are put in these circumstances.

“But we take them on holidays abroad, we go camping in Devon, we go shopping, to the zoo and the cinema.

“It can be traumatic but they learn to make decisions for themselves. It’s beautiful to watch. The changes are amazing.”

She invests a lot of time and effort into her foster children, but says she also gets a lot back.

One former foster child recently asked her to be godmother to their first child.

Mrs Dambrine said: “I view them as my children. I know they don’t belong to me. I’m quite realistic.

“They view me as family but I never claim to be mum.”

To mark Foster Care Fortnight, Essex County Council has launched a new campaign to try and find 100 new foster carers.

Mrs Dambrine is encouraging others to give the life-changing work a go.

She said: “Whatever your background, you can become a foster carer.

“It is not a box-ticking exercise. There are no stereotypes. It’s just the generosity of your soul.”

Visit essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/fostering.