A BRISBANE grandmother who has devoted two decades to fostering more than 90 children has been named Queensland’s Barnardos Mother of the Year.

A REMARKABLE Brisbane grandmother who has fostered more than 90 children says there is no job more rewarding than caring for kids in need.

Cindy Rigby, 61, will today be named as Queensland’s Barnardos Mother of the Year for her work over almost two decades spent as a foster carer.

Ms Rigby began taking in drug and alcohol rehabilitation patients to help them get their lives on track after retiring due to an injury in 2000 and when her two adult sons left home.

“But then someone put a letter in our letterbox about foster caring and I thought if we could get these kids before they went down that road we could save so many more so we started fostering,” she said.

“It can be quite heartbreaking because these little kids can be quite broken when they come to you.

“Some don’t even know how to use a knife or fork, some haven’t ever been read a story book – I had one boy who would eat until he was nearly sick because he wasn’t used to being fed.”

The children who came into Ms Rigby’s care were aged from just two weeks to 17 and would stay from as long as a weekend to more than a decade.

“All I could do was give them as much love as I could while they were there,” Ms Rigby said.

“It’s so important to love them and care for them and make them feel that they mattered to somebody because neglect is the biggest problem with a lot of these kids.

“I wouldn’t break up family units so I could go from one or two children one day to six the next.”

Ms Rigby, who was known to her foster kids as nanna, retired from fostering last year and said she missed playing such a big role in the lives of kids in need.

“I’m still in contact with about 20 of them and it’s so wonderful when they get in touch and tell you about their lives and what they’re doing,” she said.

Hayley Barber, 20, was one of Ms Rigby’s foster children and said even now, her foster mum was her best friend a “pillar of strength”.

“I never really had a mum until I came to Cindy’s home,” Ms Barber said.

“She taught me how to use a knife and fork and how to do homework and even stayed up until midnight writing English assignments with me.

“No words can describe how much my mum has done for me.”

Ms Rigby is now in the running to be named as Barnardos Mother of the Year for Australia.

(This article was first published in the Courier Mail and was written by Vanessa Marsh.)

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