Diane Audin, of Pontefract Road, Lundwood, was shortlisted in The Guardian’s Public Service Awards and, as one of five national finalists, was the runner-up in the public servant of the year category.
Diane was recognised for her commitment to understanding children whose lives have been traumatic, damaging and unsafe and she also received praise for her commitment to therapeutic parenting as well as mentoring other carers.
Despite having two children, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren of her own, Diane has taken more than 70 children into her home across the 24 years that she has worked in foster care.
Diane told the Chronicle: “I’m absolutely delighted to be recognised nationally for my fostering. To me, it’s not really a job at all, it’s something that I love to do and I’m passionate about.
“I aim to give the children in my care a normal life, providing love, trust and really trying to understand them as individuals.
“There’s nothing better than watching them grow up, I find it very rewarding.
Diane works for Tree House Care, a Grimsby-based organisation which has a network of carers across the country.
Hugh Mellett, director of operations, added: “We’re thrilled that Diane has been given the recognition that she deserves for her dedication, hard work and deep understanding of her role as a foster carer.
“We are incredibly proud to have her as part of the Tree House Care team.
“She embodies everything that we stand for, providing the best possible experience for the children in our care.
“We really get to know our carers as we want to ensure our children and young people are cared for in a nurturing and supportive environment, which Diane does with ease.”
Increasing the number of foster carers in the town has been adopted as a priority for Barnsley Council, with each of its six area councils hosting events to drive up numbers.
Coun Margaret Bruff, cabinet spokesman, added: “We really need Barnsley carers for Barnsley children. Being able to continue living in the same town allows Barnsley’s children and young people in foster care to go to the same school and keep seeing their friends and family members.
“Foster care is a brilliant thing to be able to offer, but you don’t have to be a superhero to do it. Just offering care, support and stability can really help a young person to achieve their potential.
“I hope that their passion and enthusiasm for what they do can encourage more and more people to start the process or even consider becoming a foster carer.
“Unfortunately there is a shortage of carers both nationally and within Barnsley, but by getting out there as much as possible, we hope to help bring this down bit by bit.”