Belfast foster carer who has taken in 80 children is named Northern Ireland's SuperMum
A Belfast foster mum who has opened her home to almost 80 children has been named Northern Ireland’s top mum.
Geraldine Cassidy, a mother-of-three, was honoured at the SuperValu SuperMums ceremony at Parliament Buildings by a judging panel for dedicating much of her life to the care of children.
She said: "I loved being a foster carer, but there were really bad times. Every time one left me, they took a bit of my heart away; you always worry about them because in your house you know they're safe.
"There was always tears in my house, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. When my son had my grandchild, I thought to myself, 'this is one baby that no one can take from me'. I have four grandchildren and no one can take them away from me.
For more than 15 years Geraldine opened her home to almost 80 children, from new born babies to pre-teens, who needed urgent short-term care.
Geraldine added: "From the minute they came into my home they were my babies. I would advise anybody to try it, you'll break your heart a few times, but there's wee children out there and all they want is love and for someone to hold them and what they go through is so unreal, especially those who are physically and mentally abused."
Thirty-six mums from across Northern Ireland were honoured at the ceremony, including Co Down’s Siobhan Rice as a runner-up alongside Co Tyrone’s Claire O’Hanlon.
Geraldine said: “I really can’t believe I have won, I didn’t realise my daughter Fiona had even nominated me. To be told I am the SuperValu SuperMum for 2015 has left me totally speechless, especially as I was nominated amongst so many wonderful mums.
"My husband and children were always behind me. At times, my children would even give up their beds when emergency families came in and we didn't have enough beds."
Hundreds of nominations were received for the competition from inspiring mothers, but only 36 finalists were chosen from SuperValu stores across Northern Ireland.
Donna Morrison, Marketing Manager of SuperValu, said: “Congratulations to Geraldine on being crowned SuperValu SuperMum 2015! This year we were overwhelmed with wonderful mums and their selflessness and Geraldine truly is a SuperMum, not only raising three children of her own, but caring for so many children who needed support.
“There are so many inspirational mothers across Northern Ireland who show such humility when dealing with life’s challenges. I would like to congratulate all 36 of our SuperMum finalists as they are all very deserving.”
The grand final was hosted by TV personality, Claire McCollum, who crowned Geraldine the overall SuperValu SuperMum 2015 and presented her with a family trip to Disneyland Paris, courtesy of Clubworld Travel.
Geraldine added: "It's kind of like watching something on TV and going 'oh I wish that would happen to me' and when it does it seems unreal."
The competition, sponsored by Magnum, Kellogg’s and Robinsons, involved entering online and describing what makes a nominee inspirational or worthy of the title SuperMum.