The future looks bright for once-fostered Ellis Kehoe as he readies himself for graduation from university and the arrival of his first child.
And the 21-year-old is backing Foster Care Fortnight’s theme that this form of parenthood can transform you - because he is living proof that it can!
The budding sports therapist first found himself at the home of Ellen and Colin Gregory aged just seven. And it proved one of the most significant moves of his life.
“I got there and was terrified and didn’t say a word to them,” said Ellis.
“They tried to talk to me but I didn’t say a word.
“They had their grandchildren round who were in the garden so straight away they included me in what they were doing.
“I was a bit hesitant at first but they got me into it.
“As the months went on I got more and more comfortable with them, they took me on holiday and I was settling in with them.
“Months turned into years and I was coming on leaps and bounds.
“When I went into care I couldn’t read or write and within the first year I learnt to read and write and within two years became top of my class for reading.”
As he moved on to high school, with his foster carers’ support, Ellis went on to indulge in his passion for sport which saw him become a three-time British champion wrestler and cup-winning rugby player.
He added: “They’ve helped me build myself up.
“I wasn’t confident as to who I was and where I came from.
“I felt like this child that wasn’t wanted or needed, I didn’t have a place on the earth. They saw that and step-by-step they helped me to become confident and driven.”
His success saw him pick up the Care Leaver of the Year award last year.
Ellis credits his foster family, whom he now sees as his own family, as the catalyst for his development and giving him the foundations for an exciting future in sports therapy once he graduated from university.