New Year Honours: MBEs for Bedford foster parents
A couple from Bedford who have devoted 25 years to fostering children, many with physical or learning disabilities, have been made MBEs in the New Year Honours list.
Derek, 69, and Hazel Phillips, 67, have fostered about 25 children since they started in 1988.
Mrs Phillips said they decided to provide permanent foster care until their children become adults.
She praised her friends and family for supporting their work.
"We couldn't have done it without them," she said.
The couple were made MBEs for services to children and families and their "total dedication to fostering and supporting vulnerable young people".
Mrs Phillips said she hoped the honour and publicity would encourage others to consider taking up fostering.
"To become a foster carer you must be someone who is prepared to open yourself up to this life and it is very different from ordinary family life," she said.
"If you do the training and find this is something you can do, then you should do it and you will get a lot of support."
Another person appointed MBE was Roger Merton, 72, of Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, for services to London Youth (the Federation of London Youth Clubs), football and the community in Hertfordshire.
He has spent 50 years supporting children and people with disabilities through football.
Others honoured are Irene Heathcote, 63, of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, and Mabel Matthew, 74, from Luton, who were awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM).
Mrs Heathcote has received the BEM for services to arts and crafts with Quilts4London which gave ordinary people the opportunity to become involved in the London 2012 Olympic Games by making pennants.
Mrs Matthew receives the award for services to the St Kitts and Nevis Friends Association, which she has been involved in since 1984, and to the community in Luton.