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Why did SuperMum Geraldine Cassidy foster 80 children?

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 07/10/2015

Geraldine Cassidy
Geraldine Cassidy
Geraldine and Matt with their two youngest grandkids, Connell and Hollyrose, celebrate the SuperValu SuperMum accolade

She's the super mum who has given hope to 80 foster children over the years.

But behind the accolade of being crowned Northern Ireland's top mum, there has been sorrow and loss for Dunmurry's Geraldine Cassidy (62).

The Twinbrook woman and husband Matt opened her home to foster children of all ages for 15 years after she miscarried twice.

She was one of 36 mums from across Northern Ireland honoured at the SuperValu SuperMums competition held at Stormont. Co Down's Siobhan Rice and Co Tyrone's Claire O'Hanlon were runners-up.

After winning the competition, Geraldine is happily planning a trip to Disneyland Paris with her daughter Fiona and granddaughter with her top prize courtesy of Clubworld Travel.

Fiona entered her mother into the competition without telling her as a way of acknowledging what her mum gave to her and her foster siblings.

But the road to family happiness has come with more than a few bumps.

"The truth is that I would loved to have had more children but it just wasn't to be," the mother-of-three said.

"Matt comes from a large family and it was something we both wanted, but unfortunately after my second miscarriage I just couldn't get pregnant again.

"My youngest son Sean was only about five when I had a miscarriage. I took the loss very bad, we both did, as we had waited so long to get pregnant again.

"I was only about eight weeks pregnant at the time but the baby was very much wanted.

"After, Matt, seeing how upset I was, applied for us to be foster parents without telling me. But it was the right thing to do."

Geraldine says that fostering all the boys and girls was a family decision and commitment.

She could not have done it without the support of her own children, Brian, Fiona and Sean, now aged 41, 40 and 37 respectively.

She said: "I loved each and every one of them as my own. As soon as they came into our house, they where like our own babies and they were family.

"We had them from babies. At one time we had two 18-month-old babies and all ages up to pre-teens. But saying goodbye to them was heartbreaking too."

It was the loss of another pregnancy when, combined with some disappointment at foster decisions, that led Geraldine and Matt (68) to stop fostering.

The couple still have a full household as they are now grandparents to Niamh (16), Peter (12), Connell (7) and Hollyrose (5).

She said winning the contest as the Dairy Farm store representative acknowledges her contribution to her foster children's lives.

"I felt amazing on the night and was treated like a wee princess. But every single mum there that night were amazing and worthy of an award."

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