Woman who fostered over 90 children says statue in her honour represents all carers and volunteers

A woman who has fostered more than 90 children is being honoured with a four metre high statue in central London which she hopes will give recognition to other local volunteers.

Jo Newby, 52, from Hull, is a foster carer and grassroots football coach, and was nominated by her husband Christopher Newby, 52, to be titled the UK’s kindest hero.

The statue of Ms Newby (pictured) is being erected as part of a campaign called #MyKINDHero by healthy snack bar brand, KIND, to promote and encourage acts of kindness.

Ms Newby is being recognised for her work as a foster carer of nearly 20 years, in which time she has cared for 92 children and adopted one.

She also founded and co-ordinates three separate football teams for children in Hull within the Barton Inclusive Football Club, which was set up for disabled children and young people in the area.

“I hope people can see it in a really positive way, that it’s not necessarily about me,” she told the PA news agency.

“It’s the embodiment of all foster carers and every grassroots football coach and volunteer.

“It’s more about representing those two really hard-working elements of our communities.

“Whilst the statue is a physical representation of me, it’s kind of a recognition to every foster carer, every grassroots volunteer.”

Ms Newby founded a new team after realising that there was not an FA accredited competitive football league for disabled under 16’s, like her son Casper, 14, to play in.

She originally took Casper in as a foster child at 18 months old before adopting him and said he is “football mad”.

Ms Newby helped to set up three pan-disability football clubs last year, which facilitate competitive football for both children and young adults regardless of their type of disability.

Ms Newby said: “I never really realised that standing rain soaked, freezing and covered in mud and washing sweaty kit would be so rewarding, but it really is.

“There are thousands of people across the country that do that week in, week out, for other people’s children and they deserve recognition.

“Because I think a lot of the parents who access this football will forget that actually, we are not paid, none of those people are paid, they are doing it out of love.

“Love of football and love of seeing young people being able to engage in sport.”

Ms Newby sleeps only two or three hours a night because of her duties as a foster mother but says she is “in her element” when looking after and helping children.

She said: “Fostering starts off as a job but it becomes a lifestyle.

“Every time the house is empty, I try to convince myself that it’s time to kick back a bit, put my feet up, maybe do a bit of decorating or have a holiday.

“But within a few weeks when I have done those things, or sometimes within a few days and I am ready to go again.”

During coronavirus, Ms Newby and her husband had seven children living in their home. The couple, who currently care for their adopted son Casper and two other foster children, do not plan to stop fostering any time soon.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2022, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Tony Kershaw/ KIND / PA.