AN EX-army captain has urged others to consider becoming foster carers- describing his experience as ‘the best thing I have ever done.’

After 35 years in the army 58-year-old Geoff Wilson from The South Lakes decided to embark on his dream to foster, alongside his partner Stephen.

It was while on holiday the couple decided to ‘take the leap’ after Mr Wilson read a novel by a full-time foster carer.

“It was so inspiring and heart-warming to read about how emotionally-damaged lives had been turned around with love and security,” he said.

“That sealed it for me and gave me the confidence to embark on fostering. We got back from holiday and registered for the assessment process straightaway, choosing to foster through Fostering Solutions, part of National Fostering Group, as we’d heard their support network was outstanding.”

In 2015 Mr Wilson, who already has two birth daughters and a son, and Stephen welcomed their son, then 9, to their family shortly before Christmas.

He had been placed with multiple foster carers from the age of four, some as far away as 370 miles from his Cumbrian roots.

“He didn’t think people liked him,” said Mr Wilson, “and didn’t understand why he’d had to move families so many times. He would often pull an angry face and was very insecure. He couldn’t concentrate on schoolwork for long enough to write half a page.”

However, the youngster settled in very quickly, with the pair’s bond strengthening during an unforgettable incident only a few weeks into his arrival.

“We were on our way back from a Christmas shopping trip when our Land Rover got stuck in a flooded road as Storm Desmond hit,” said Mr Wilson.

“I had to pull him free through the window, and from that moment I became his ‘action man hero’.”

Due to their home being flooded the family spent the next six months in a rented holiday cottage, which only brought them closer together.

“For the first time in his life, he got a taste of what it was like to do well, and he’s gone from strength to strength,” said Mr Wilson.

He is now involved in lots of groups, including scouts and even represents England in Judo.

“In his most recent school report he came top of his year in nine subjects,” said Mr Wilson.

“He really is a smashing boy with a lovely smile, and we are so proud of him!”

Mr Wilson has said patience, security and love are the most important factors in fostering.

“Step back and try to understand why the child is behaving in a certain way – if you look carefully, there will always be a reason,” he said.

“The support from our agency is incredible – I’ve attended lots of training courses which have opened my eyes to therapeutic parenting and how important this is in helping young people through their difficulties so that they can reach their potential.”

Mr Wilson has urged others to open their hearts to fostering. “You’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain. Becoming a foster carer is so rewarding - it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. If you can help by fostering just one child, you’ll be making a difference. There are thousands more waiting for a loving, nurturing home.”