Around 750 people from Torbay’s Fostering, Special Guardians, Disability, and care experienced families enjoyed taking part in the Dartmouth Steam Railway Christmas Train of Lights and enjoyed a magical evening of festive storytelling and enchanting light displays.

The event – which is the fourth year the event has taken place for Foster Carers, children, special guardians, families with children who are disabled, and care experienced children,and families – took place on Thursday 23 November 2023.

The event was organised by Torbay Council’s Children’s Services to help create magical memories and a shared experience in the run up to Christmas. It is one of a number of events that the Council, working with a wide range of corporate Fostering partners, offers as part of a package of support for Foster Carers which also includes training, local support groups and networks and professional advice from a team that includes social workers, experienced Foster Carers as mentors, and much much more.

Councillor Nick Bye, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services for Torbay said: “It was absolutely amazing to join all the fun and experience the magic of the Train of Lights, and I would like to say a huge thank you top Dartmouth Steam Railway and everyone who helped put this fantastic event together.

“It is an incredibly generous gesture by the railway company to provide this again and you could see from the excitement on everyone’s faces so very much appreciated.

“We are absolutely committed to doing all we can in Torbay to supporting Fostering families, special guardians, families with children who are disabled, and care experienced children and the Train of Lights event is an annual highlight.

“Providing a safe and loving foster home is one of the best gifts you can give to a looked after child, but many of our foster carers have also described fostering as a gift and a privilege.

“This is the perfect time to make a positive life change with child fostering if you are considering a new work/life balance. If you have flexible working hours, a spare room, and a kind heart, you could become Torbay foster carer. If you would like to find out more please get in touch with Torbay Children’s Services by calling 01803 207845 or visit our Fostering webpages."

John Jones, Managing Director of Dartmouth Steam Railway said: “This is now the fourth year that we have handed over the first two Train of Lights service to Torbay Council’s Children’s Services free of charge. For myself and many of the staff it is the highlight of the year to see all those happy faces and it’s of particular importance to me personally as my parent’s fostered children for many years when I was a child.”

Local Foster families also told us what they thought of the event:

“Thankyou so much for such a wonderful magical evening , the children absolutely loved every minute of the train of lights ! The gasps and excitement is something we treasure inbetween the very busy and daily challenges we face raising a child with disabilities.”

“Their eyes lit up and we heard ‘Oh wow look ! Look ! Did you see that!”

“Honestly just wanted to thank you and your team because our child has been known to services for many years since the age of two through  children’s services and I can honestly say we haven’t felt this much support or provided these amazing  opportunities.

“Life can throw so many challenges and difficulties but to get the chance to enjoy all these positive and magical experiences means the world to us as a family!”

“I hope you and your team have a lovely Christmas and a fantastic new year! Thankyou for absolutely everything you do for all the Torbay families, we never even knew these chances to create memories for families like ours even existed Thankyou so much!”

There is always a need for more Foster Carers in Torbay and in particular, short break and stay over Foster Carers. If you are thinking of becoming a Foster Carer or want to find out more about Fostering in Torbay, call the team on 01803 207845 or visit our Fostering webpages.

Photo by kind permission of Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company.

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