Belfast Trust Fostering Service in celebratory mood


Belfast Trust Fostering Service is in celebratory mood following the annual 'Fostering Network Foster Carer of the year Awards'.

Belfast Trust foster carer Orla McGrory was awarded Foster Carer of Distinction. Orla, a single carer who is providing a long term placement for a child with profound physical and learning needs, was described by her nominating social worker as “exceptional”. “Orla takes great pride in her foster son’s development. She has undoubtedly improved his quality of life immensely and it is a privilege to see the bond they have.”

Kathleen Toner, Director Fostering Network NI who hosted the awards said, “Orla is an incredible advocate for foster care, she is open about the challenges in looking after a child with physical and learning disabilities but she is also clear about the rewards. Often asked why she chooses to look after a child with so many needs Orla’s answer is simply, “he has opened up my whole world.”

Billy and Frances Wylie who have fostered with Belfast Trust since 1976 were awarded the inaugural Heather Mateer Memorial Award. Senior social worker Colette Quinn was instrumental in setting up the award in honour of a colleague “who was an example of all that is good practice in social work.”

Colette explains, “Heather was committed, non-judgemental and a strong advocate for children and foster carers. Putting children first was her working mantra. It is fitting that Billy and Frances receive this award - they always worked well with social work staff and birth families, developing positive relationships, a significant factor to allow young people in their care to feel safe and secure.”

Their nominating social worker said “the Wylies have been a joy to work with. They are loving, sensitive, have a sense of humour and focus on the child’s needs. All qualities which Heather Mateer showed in abundance.”

You may recognise some of the qualities displayed by our foster carers yourself. If you are resilient, flexible and have the energy and time to care for the demands of a child, then you could help make a real difference to a young person’s life by becoming one of our valued foster carers. HSC foster carers receive ongoing training, financial allowances and 24 hour social work support.

Take the leap this Foster Care Fortnight and find out more – visit or call our recruitment team on (028) 950 40057. We would love to hear from you!

Pictured Above:

Kerrylee Weatherall, Acting Children’s Services Manager together with Philip Mateer, husband of the late Heather Mateer, who presented Billy and Frances Wylie with the inaugural Heather Mateer Memorial Award.


Lorraine Toner, Principal Social Worker, Orla McGroary foster carer who received a Foster Carer of Distinction Award, and Kerrylee Weatherall, Acting Children’s Services Manager


Members of the Belfast Trust Fostering Service together with foster carers who celebrated at the The Fostering Network NI Foster Carer of the Year Awards