An incredible couple from North Ayrshire have given foster children a loving home for almost two decades.

Mary and Billy have been fostering with FCA Scotland for over 18 years and have built lifelong connections with the children they have welcomed into their care.

Although they are all independent adults now, the couple still stays in touch with most of them.

When they first began their fostering journey, Billy was ready for a career change after working in the leisure industry for several years and decided to take up fostering full-time.

He was the main carer for the first 10 years while Mary continued working full-time in housing but supported Billy in the mornings, evenings and weekends.  

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Mary and Billy have been fostering children for almost 20 yearsMary and Billy have been fostering children for almost 20 years (Image: FCA Scotland)

He said that fostering doesn’t mean only giving a child a roof, there’s a lot more to it. He shared how to manage expectations and work towards a successful outcome. 

“You’re not going to get a ‘perfect’ child. It’s a challenging job, but it’s a very rewarding one.”, Billy explained.

“Your foster children may not be well equipped to receive the love and care you are giving them and so it’s very important to be patient and be able to support them in the right way.

"I decided that it was a good career choice for me. I felt that we could really help the children and make a difference in their lives.”

Brilliant foster carers

Now, Billy wants people to understand that men can also make brilliant foster carers.

He added: “Get all the relevant information about fostering, ensure you have done your research, speak to people about it, and get as much support as you can.”

Currently, the couple care for a fifteen-year-old girl who has lived with them for nine years along with her two siblings who have since moved out of their care, become “well-rounded adults”, and even started their own families. 

Alongside her, Billy and Mary also welcome short-term fostering which can be extra challenging but given their experience, the couple are happy to take them in and give them a safe space.

The couple both had children from other partners but didn’t have the chance to bring up a family together.

 Mary said: “We were both working full-time and had a good life but we always felt that there was something we could offer. We thought we could be a good parenting team.”

Becoming foster carers

They saw an advert for fostering with FCA Scotland and decided to have a look into it since their children were all grown up and had left home.  

Mary fondly talks about one of their foster children who lived with them for eight years before moving out.

She said: “As a foster carer, you build a long-lasting relationship with the child. We are still in contact with him after all these years and we are always there to support him when he needs it.

"He remains a member of our family and comes along for Christmas Day and family events.

“We helped these children build up their self-esteem and fit into the world, a journey which was made easier by the support of our social workers, therapists, and the team at FCA Scotland.

"We would highly recommend them as a fostering agency.”

Billy added: “I’m proud of the work we’ve done since the beginning of our fostering journey, it's a very rewarding job and we've seen the rewards.

"I think we’ve done something worthwhile and have been able to give back to our community.”

For more information about fostering, visit FCA Scotland’s website at