Fifty years of fostering and bringing children into their home

RETIREMENT might mean many different things to different people but for Bicton couple Bob and Kay Lockley it has never been busier.

For more than 50 years the devoted couple have cared for more than 100 foster children and there is no sign of them letting up.

Children have been a big focus in the Lockleys’ lives, apart from the fact they have five grownup children and 12 grandchildren.

They have opened their home to children of all ages needing help and guidance, taking them to school, sport and after-school commitments, never stopping to consider themselves.

“It all started back in 1964 when we were both working at Mogumber mission,” Kay said.

“We became very fond of a boy, Danny, now 54, who came to us full-time in 1967 and still lives with us. We are committed Christians and considered helping children a calling. We feel for 50 years we have done this because God wanted us to do it and we still feel the same way.”

The Lockleys moved back to Perth and have always lived in the Bicton area, upsizing to a bigger house about 45 years ago to accommodate the children.

The couple say the children stay with them for a time and then leave with no strings attached to get on with their lives.

“We don’t chase the children up unless they want to contact us,” said Bob, who once worked in farming and banking.

The Department of Communities celebrated the Lockleys’ milestone last December with a garden party at the Fremantle Arts Centre attended by family, friends and department staff.

A big photo board showed the couple with some of the children they have fostered down the years.

Kay Lockley said the 50-year experience was “immensely satisfying.”

“It can be frustrating sometimes, but on the whole very satisfying,” she said.

“Give fostering a try,” Bob said.

“Talk to other foster parents, there is a wealth of experience and all the support you need within the department, the community and the Foster Parents Association.”

The Lockleys, who decline to state their age, are modest about their achievements, say they have no plans to retire from fostering and will keep going as long as they can.

“It keeps us young, we have no plans to give it up,” said Kay, a former nurse.

The couple attend foster parent gatherings several times a year and keep busy outside fostering.

Kay enjoys knitting and handcrafts while Bob works as a volunteer doing administrative work for various organisations.

Foster parenting might prove a rewarding option for people in retirement looking for a new challenge.

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Josephine Allison started her career in journalism at 18 as a cadet on the Geraldton Guardian newspaper. She realised her ambition to work on a daily newspaper when she later joined The West Australian where she spent almost 34 years covering everything from police courts to parliament, general news, the arts and real estate. After moving on from The West, she worked on several government short-term media contracts and part-time at a newspaper in Midland before joining Have a Go News in 2012. These days she enjoys writing about interesting people from various fields, often unsung heroes who have helped make WA a better place.