A couple from Hexton, Hertfordshire, has been fostering 117 children over the last three decades.
Their extraordinary efforts of foster carers Robert and Caroline Rejdak were recognised last week with the awarding of an MBE in the New Year Honours list and now their remarkable story has been told for the first time.
AdvertisementSince the late 1970s the pair have nurtured newborns and tearaway teenagers, reunited absent parents with their offspring and even become grandparents through an adopted son and daughter.
Mrs Rejdak, 58, said she and her husband applied to become foster parents in 1976, inspired by their experiences of looking after the disabled son of another couple who were close friends.
"I used to help out on odd days to give them a break and it got us thinking about other families in similar situations," the Telegraph quoted her, as saying.
The couple, who are currently fostering two boys aged 12 and 18, said they had no intention of giving up their duties but that modern teenagers had become harder to deal with because of lower standards of discipline.
Mr Rejdak, 63, an estate management worker, said: "We will carry on for as long as we physically can. You never stop getting pleasure from giving children a fresh start - they come here with a clean slate as far as we are concerned.
"No-one gets on with everyone and sometimes there isn't the right 'click' but it rarely happens. The teenagers we get now are very different to when we started 30 years ago - there isn't any discipline any more and they know all about their rights and what we can't make them do.
"We don't have lots of rules but you do need boundaries. I think there is a shortage of foster parents because people want to look after babies and young children rather than teenagers who can be so difficult nowadays, even though it is more rewarding to help them," he added.
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