Rochdale foster carers presented with Census 2021 community hero awards

Date published: 10 March 2021

A Rochdale couple who have dedicated over four decades to fostering local children have been recognised as one of 22 national Census 2021 Community Heroes.

Marilyn and Michael Holt have been fostering for Rochdale Borough Council for 45 years.

In this time they have given the best childhood possible to in excess of 300 children and they are still in touch with many of them today.

Following hundreds of entries into the Census Community Hero Award across England and Wales Marilyn and Michael have been chosen as one of the 22 winners to get a purple plaque recognising the incredible impact they have had on their local community.

Marilyn said: “We are truly grateful to have received the Census 2021 Community Hero Award, amongst the hundreds of entries that were submitted. We’re so honoured to be able to foster children, it’s a great pleasure of ours and we’re so excited and humbled to have received this award.”

Michael said: “This is really special for us. We started fostering in our 20s and we’ve never looked back, we love fostering. This award has made us really reflect on all that we’ve achieved and the difference we’ve made. Foster carers make a huge difference to local children so if you’ve ever consider it do it you really won’t regret it.”

The Holts are well known to staff in children’s services for going above and beyond to ensure children’s needs are met. They speak so positively and fondly about children, celebrating their individual personalities. Marilyn has a diary of anecdotes which she has recorded lovingly throughout the years.

Councillor Kieran Heakin, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We are delighted that Michael and Marilyn have been recognised by this national hero’s campaign. Their dedication to fostering is remarkable, they had such a life changing impact on so many children, we are very lucky to have them fostering with us. They represent the selfless and caring role of all foster carers and we’re grateful to each and every one of them.”

In this most challenging of years for families, Marilyn and Michael were one of the first foster carers to resume direct family time with children they were caring for. Their passion for children saw them working closely with staff at Queen Street Family Time Centre to ensure it was done as safely as possible. They always make sure they take lots of photographs to share with parents during family time and make a point of dressing the children in clothing provided by parents to ensure they continue to feel they are an important part of their child's life.

Their supporting social worker, Jessica, said: “I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to work with Marilyn and Michael. I don’t think they realise how wonderful they are – they are truly special and real heroes of Rochdale.”

The entries were judged by a panel of noteworthy community champions, led by actress and presenter, Joanna Page, who said: “I am honoured to have been a judge on the Census 2021 community hero awards panel. It was such a pleasure to read through all the amazing entries.

“In what has been a difficult year for so many of us, this was a great opportunity to say thank you to the people who go above and beyond to serve their local community.”

You can find out more about fostering at

The census, taking place on 21 March 2021, is a national survey that takes place every 10 years to give a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales

Census 2021 will inform decisions nationally and locally on vital services and issues. Ultimately it ensures millions of pounds are invested in emergency services, mental health care, school places, hospital beds, houses, roads, GPs and dentists’ services - all based on the information people provide.

People can complete the census online on any device, with help and paper questionnaires for those that need them. Households should have now received information via the post on the upcoming census and how to complete it online.

More information on the Census is available at

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