Tribute to Wellingborough foster mum who was an 'absolutely amazing lady'
Chantelle is in her 20s now but has paid tribute to the woman who welcomed her into her home at the age of 13 and had a huge impact on her life
Chantelle was just 13 when she went to live with Jacky, a foster carer from Wellingborough.
Being in care is never easy but after a year, Chantelle began to trust Jacky and their relationship grew into a really strong bond over the years.
Even after leaving care at the age of 18, Chantelle stayed in touch with Jacky, who went on to become 'Nanny Jacky' to her son and be a huge part in both their lives.
Jacky's death last November hit Chantelle really hard, but with so many good memories of the years she spent with Jacky, she wanted to pay tribute to the woman who wasn't just her carer, but was 'mum.'
Here's Chantelle's story in her own words: "As a 13-year-old there are a lot of changes and challenges in your life, but being placed in care makes it a particularly confusing time.
"I wasn’t really aware of why I had to be placed with Jacky – before I moved in with her, I was with an emergency placement that I stayed with for almost a year.
"Leaving this placement was really hard.
"I didn’t know why I had to live there, I had difficulty adapting to the new people around me and I was generally struggling to accept that I was in care.
"I could be quite stubborn at times (Jacky tells me now that I was at that age!) and as a result I struggled to open up to her at first.
"It took me a year before I began to feel much more comfortable and began to share my feelings with her.
"Once we were able to open up to each other, Jacky became the supportive arm around my shoulder I needed.
"She helped me come to terms with things and have a better understanding of myself.
"The pivotal moment in my relationship with Jacky was when, as a 14-year-old, I felt confident enough to disclose some really personal information to Jacky.
"The way she dealt with things was incredible and straight away she took the right steps to help me cope a little better.
"Due to my disclosure, I had to attend court when I was 16.
"Those four days were some of the most difficult of my life, but the help and support I got from Jacky and her daughter Sam helped me through it.
"I think when I found the courage to open up to Jacky our relationship really grew strong, and it remained so for the rest of her life.
"I felt at home living with Jacky.
"It was a mother and daughter life, we also had the dogs as well as Bella the cat.
"She really let me have my space and I needed that being a teen, because I needed space to grow.
"School wasn’t going well before I moved in with Jacky, but she helped me turn things around.
"She would sit at the dining room table with me and help me with my schoolwork.
"She also hired a tutor to help me with maths.
"She had such an enormous impact on my life.
"Last November, Jacky passed away from lung cancer.
"I had never had to grieve for anyone before, it destroyed me.
"I was walking to town when Jacky’s daughter Sam phoned me and told me the news.
"The day before I had been told she had a week left and then 24 hours later I was told that she had died.
"I just didn’t have time to adjust to what I had been told.
"I struggled to believe it.
"I have her car, so when I think of her, I sit in it and talk.
"It makes me feel close to her as I never said goodbye.
"Jacky remained close to me and has been a supportive influence throughout my life, right up to leaving care at 18 and into my adult years.
"When I moved onto independent living it was like I never left.
"I would see her all the time, she would come over to mine for a cuppa.
"She would bring the children she was fostering around to my house so I could meet them and reassure them that Jacky will take brilliant care of them.
"I have a son now and I’m so happy that he got to be close with Jacky.
"She met him when he was just three-days-old.
"She absolutely loved him, and I loved seeing their bond.
"Jacky was a mum to me, and so it was obvious that she would be a big part of my son’s life.
"She was known as 'nanny Jacky'.
"Before I had my son, I followed in Jacky’s footsteps and became a carer too.
"You hear some bad stories about the care system, but I had a positive experience of being in care with TACT and I would never be ashamed to admit that.
"Fostering can be difficult, especially at first, but you end up making a young person’s life positive again and help them realise their worth - to me, that’s an incredibly special thing.
"It will be 13 years since Jacky fostered me and I have so much to thank her for.
"She wasn’t just my carer, she was 'mum'.
"I have so many memories; her personality, her smile, how she made me feel welcomed.
"The memories are what helps me get by.
"Jacky was an absolutely amazing lady and I love her so much."
TACT is the UK’s largest dedicated fostering charity and it has been helping to provide loving families for vulnerable children for more than 25 years.
The charity is recruiting foster carers all across the East Midlands, however there is a particular demand for foster carers in numerous counties including Northamptonshire.
If you’re interested in finding out more about fostering, click here.