A DANCE prodigy from Mansfield who was fostered at the age of 12 is urging more people to come forward and offer children a loving home.
Richard Cork (19) lived in the town before moving to a foster home near Retford where he started learning gym dance at a special school.
He has gone on to train at some of the leading dance centres in the country and is currently studying ballet and contemporary dance at the Rambert School in London.
Richard says his career path may have proved impossible without the support he received while in foster care, and is now urging more potential carers to come forward as part of the national Foster Care Fortnight campaign.
“My fostering experience shows what can happen if you place a child with the right foster family,” he said.
“The daughter of my foster carers owned the local dance school so they encouraged me to attend. It was at this club that I realised that dance was my passion and it has changed my life.
“I am eternally grateful to my foster carers for their care and support and they have made a huge difference to my life.
“I encourage people who can give a loving home to consider fostering as there are many children and young people out there who need the same kind of care and support that I received as a teenager.”
Greater numbers of foster carers are needed in Nottinghamshire due to the rising number of children in care and because many current carers are reaching retirement age.
In March 2010 Nottinghamshire County Council had 590 children in its care and this had increased to 667 in March this year.
Coun Philip Owen, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Fostering is a way of providing a stable family life and helping children to come to terms with their difficult or traumatic backgrounds.
“Being a foster carer can be challenging, but if people feel they are able to offer the time, commitment, space and the skills to look after children who cannot live with their own families, I urge them to come forward to find out more about the type of job satisfaction that only fostering can offer.”
Foster Care Fortnight runs until 29th May and council staff will be at the Four Seasons Shopping Centre in Mansfield on Friday from 9am-5pm to tell anyone interested more about it.
For more information contact 0845 301 8899 or visit www. nottinghamshire.gov.uk.
Mansfield Foster Care Associates is hosting an open evening tomorrow from 6-8pm at its Nottingham Road office.