Dry January charity challenge for Welwyn Garden City man
PUBLISHED: 15:17 07 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:33 07 January 2019
Despite having suffered appalling tragedy over the years, a Welwyn Garden City man who has devoted his life to young people is doing an "ultimate" dry January to raise money for sufferers of cystic fibrosis.
Brian Scott, 70, and his wife Gillian have lost three of their children to the disease.
The couple have long fundraised to support sufferers of, and research into, the illness that took their children away.
Brian explained how their first child, Sheree, passed away after six months with difficulties drinking and keeping food down.
Their second, Donna, passed away in the early days of her life.
An autopsy revealed she had had cystic fibrosis, and those findings pointed towards that being the cause of Sheree’s death too.
Ricky, who arrived in 1973, has thankfully grown into a happy and healthy adult son, but their last child, young Rebecca, was afflicted with the illness and passed away after three years of treatment.
“It was a terrible, terrible time,” said Gillian, who became ill for a while as a result of the emotional strain.
Fighting back from the tragedies in 1976, the couple appeared in the WHT appealing for help combatting the disease that has taken so much away from them.
Today, they are doing the same again with Brian’s fundraising challenge.
But that’s not all the Scotts have done to put some good back into a cruel world over the decades.
Brian and Gillian, 68, have fostered around 30 young people over the course of 20 years.
They came to the idea after the Poll Tax came in, when Ricky’s teenager friends would sometimes crash on their sofa as their families wouldn’t support them any more.
“A lot of children then, when they reached 17 they were kicked out,” said Brian.
It put him and Gillian to thinking about how they could support young people.
They started their path to becoming highly regarded as foster carers at a time when many saw it just as a way to make money, and not as a proper role.
“It was wonderful,” said Brian. “It filled our lives, that’s for sure.”
They began to specialise with teens in particularly difficult situations - who may even have already been through four or five other foster homes already.
Gillian was inspired by the strong parenting skills she had grown up with in her own family, remembering particularly that as teenagers her friends had always been welcomed into the home.
Gillian and Brian were highly respected by the authorities for their work, even though they sometimes disagreed with official advice not to form a close bond with foster children.
“Each child has to be loved and cared for - they all have their own different strengths and you have to bring the best out of them,” said Gillian.
They’re still in touch with many of the people formerly in their care.
Some have set up their own businesses or have happy family lives of their own.
“I’m so proud of them, I really am,” said Gillian, remarking how some family traditions from time spent at the Scott household have sometimes made it into the childrens’ new lives. “They’d say, ‘Christmas at yours was amazing’,” said Gillian.
Both the Scotts hope that more families will consider becoming foster carers.
Brian advised anyone thinking about fostering to make sure that your own children are happy with the decision, as foster children can demand a great deal of attention and energy.
Ricky, they said, dealt with it well, despite the many challenges.
“But now we’re getting a bit too old to foster, we thought what else can we do?” said Brian.
An ‘ultimate’ dry January, he explained, is one where you not only give up the booze, but can only drink water - so not even teas, coffees, and juices.
“Anyone who knows me knows I like a pint,” said Brian, who is born and bred in WGC. “It’s not as though I don’t drink anyway, I like a pint, or maybe some wine with my dinner.”
But now he’s started his month of ultimate sobriety for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
“Bit weird having water with breakfast, just when I need a caffeine kick,” he reported.
He wants to raise about £2,000, and is asking for 50p a day, or win/lose bets of £10, or commitments of £15 for finishing the month.
You can donate to his fundraiser at: https://www.facebook.com/donate/1893074354143668/10218240456741668/