Caring couple celebrate 50 years of helping others

Edith and George Penman with Heather.

A Fife couple has dedicated the last 50 years to helping others.

At the weekend, Fife Council held a double celebration to mark not only George and Edith Penman’s remarkable half century of being Fife Council carers but also the renaming of the Community Living Service.

George and Edith, from Rosyth, talked about their long service.

“We started out as foster carers 50 years ago, and 41 years ago Heather was brought to us at three weeks old, a tiny baby with Down’s syndrome,” they said.

“In those days people didn’t know much about Down’s syndrome and the first 18 months were very tricky.

“She was fragile and not expected to live more than 10 years.

“But she defied the experts and when she became 18 and too old to be a foster child we became Shared Lives carers.

“We brought her up as one of the family and treated her just like our other children.”

Now they are no longer able to care for her the Shared Lives Service has been able to find her a new carer.

“It’s been hard for us to let go but much better for her if something should happen to us.

“We meet up with her every week and she continues to bring tremendous pleasure to our lives,” they added.

Service manager Sheena Robertson added: “It is wonderful to celebrate George and Edith’s 50 years of dedication and commitment.

“Over the years the service and society have seen many changes but they have remained constant in dedicating their lives to caring for others.

“Their story is a true inspiration for all of us in caring roles and professions.

“They see themselves as ordinary people, but they have achieved extra-ordinary things.”

The Community Living service was also relaunched as Shared Lives Fife to bring the service into line with the national Shared Lives network.

It is only the name of the service that has changed with the service and the people involved remaining exactly the same.

The service provides family-based care to adults with disabilities and mental health difficulties in the homes of carers across Fife.

It is developing further to offer the service to people over the age of 65 years who are in need of additional support.

Shared Lives Fife aims to match families or individuals who are willing to share their homes, lives, interests and skills with adults who need support to live their lives to the full.