Torbay couple granted Freedom of the Borough for their contribution towards improving the lives of children.

We are delighted to confirm The Civic Committee’s recommendation to award Honorary Freedom of the Borough to Mr Dave and Mrs Dawn Barnett who have provided foster carer placements for children and young people for approximately 44 years.

On Thursday 25 February, Mr and Mrs Barnett were granted the honour at a virtual Special Council meeting, which was also witnessed by members of their own family.

The Freedom of the Borough is a high honour only awarded in exceptional circumstances, whereby military services, emergency services or individuals have demonstrated outstanding achievements in the Borough and/or on the international stage which have brought pride and satisfaction to the Borough.

Dave and Dawn have been approved foster carers since 1978 and have provided an exceptionally high standard of care for more than 70 children, sometimes for up to three children at once. They have welcomed children into their home at very short notice, with every child being provided with a stable, loving and safe home. Many children they have cared for, remain in contact with the couple leaving no doubt that the positive effect they have had on the many children and their families in Torbay is worthy of recognition.

In addition, they have greatly helped the Torbay Fostering Team by working hard to accommodate certain requests and providing advice and support for newly approved foster carers, thus shaping the next generation of carers within the Bay.

Cllr Maggi Douglas-Dunbar, The Worshipful The Mayor of Torbay, said; “It was an honour to bestow Mr and Mrs Barnett with this very special award in recognition for their invaluable contribution towards making a difference to the lives of many of our children looked after. The short and long-term positive impact this remarkable couple have made cannot be truly measured, but we hope that by granting them Freedom of the Borough it goes some way in showing our appreciation for the time they have dedicated to helping children and their families”.

Cllr Nicole Amil, Chairman of the Civic Committee, Torbay Council, said; “Fostering is one of the most rewarding things you can do, and it’s an opportunity to make a real difference to a child’s life and wellbeing. Dave and Dawn Barnett have truly embraced this ethos and have spent much of their lives helping children who have often had a difficult start in life. We are absolutely delighted to be able to give them this Award. They are a truly remarkable and inspirational team who have gone above and beyond, and it’s extremely exciting that they are our first husband and wife team to be nominated as Freemen of Torbay”.

Dave Barnett, said; “We are thrilled that we have received the award, we think it’s fantastic, although it’s not really about us it’s about the children and changing their lives for the better and we hope that in some cases we have. We know that with some children we have become their extended family which is wonderful. We have always been well supported by Torbay Council and if we had our time again we would definitely foster – we have loved it”.

A formal presentation will take place later in the year once all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

If you would like to make a difference to a young person’s life we need a wide range of people who could foster. We are particularly interested in hearing from people who have experience of working with or caring for young people with behavioural and emotional problems.  For more information contact Torbay’s Fostering team on 01803 207845 or email

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