Heavy of stomach I am taken via wheelbarrow to Cleethorpes FC function rooms where i am upended for the evening event. Helium balloons bobble on ribbons from each table, disco lights spin across the room in gyroscopic pirouettes. The trestle tables are full and bowing with food and the room's packed with young people and their carers, “ladies and gentlemen” announces the dj through a muffled sound system “please take your seats”
It's the celebratory awards ceremony and I am a special guest invited on stage where I hope to speak with humour and insight about my experiences in care. It;s so that they can have a laugh as well as think on. Superman was a foster child I say at the end of my speech can you think of any characters who were in care. I ask. A child held up her hand Pippa Longstocking! another shouts Wonder woman another with dark eyes says spider man’s parents were dead!
It's a beautiful moment, a moment of ownership. A willowy girl with glasses stood on her chair Tracey beaker tracey beaker…. It became a cross room competition. Harry Potter I said. Then the room went quiet. Harry Potter was a foster child? and there I ended.
Why does society not make the connection I thought about this as The awards ceremony began and the names were called out Tony Hampton for being picked for the national under fifteen football squad….. Sarah Arnold for wininng the national hairdressing awards…… Gerald Atkinson for showing great kindness to his friend when he was unwell……. And many many more.
I am transfigured and transfixed as they weave their way through the crowd and shake hands of the councillor before floating back with their plaques in hand, these children who are taken from the natural family into alien homes at such tender ages, who adapt, who cry and grow strong amongst strangers, who feel lost and found on each birthday, each Christmas, each weekend, who wake with a will to be strong, these children who deal with extraordinary circumstances when most are unaware of any, these children are Superheroes. I am moved to secret tears.