A 74-year-old Eltham woman who has fostered 18 children over the course of her life has spoken out about how she wants more people to do the same.

Joan Worrell started fostering when she was in her 40s and she has detailed how her life has gone to inspire those to follow suit.

For the Adolescent and Children’s Trust charity, they saw her as the perfect person to put forward during the Foster Care Fortnight , which ran from May 14-27, to recruit more foster carers.

Speaking of her experiences, Joan said: “My first placement was a brother and sister who came into care due to their mother’s mental health issues. What started as a short-term placement lasted almost a year.

“I treasure many lovely memories from that time such as going sightseeing and playing cricket on weekends.

“Even though my birth son was already grown up and living independently, he was always there for the children and enjoyed taking them out.

“The children left to live with their mother, but to this day we are in touch, especially with the girl, who visits my house regularly together with her two sons.”

Now she is in her 70s, she said she would recommend fostering to anyone “with good health and energy”.

She said: “I have cared for over 18 children and ended up adopting three of them in one go – two siblings and a little boy. My adopted children are now adults living their happy lives.

“One of them is currently travelling around Asia, another one became a mortgage advisor after graduating from Wales University and the girl is a mum of two boys.

“The first thing I do when children come to live with me is make them a home cooked meal - that always helps them to settle in quickly.”

For Joan, the most important thing as a foster parent is to make sure children understand that a bad start in life doesn’t meant they can’t have a bright future.

She said: “Fostering requires a lot of patience. Children come from various backgrounds with different habits which are not always positive and cause difficulties.

“I tell them that life isn’t given to us on a plate and that we have to work towards our achievements.

“Some people including my birth son say I have a soft heart, but I believe in giving people chances. The best thing you can do for anyone is to show them that you care and you value them as a person. You can’t go very wrong from there.”