Wonder by fdjerue7eeu


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									                                                                                                                                                                                                        ❝           y real life y
     women                             ❝I couldn’t                                                                walk away
The desperate plight of abandoned war babies                                                                                                                                                       most, ‘I want a family!’ was the
                                                                                                                                                                                                   overwhelming response. As
shattered Caroline Cook’s dreams of domestic                                                                                                                                                       a consequence, they changed
                                                                                                                                                                                                   the charity remit to focus on
bliss – but enriched her life beyond measure                                                                                                                                                       reuniting and rehoming children
                                                                                                                                                                                                   with birth or foster families.
By Carole Richardson                    always been there and it was                                                                                                                                  “Children need love – buckets

                                        devastating not to have a child                                                                                                                            of love – and they need a family
     oving children – irrespective      straight away,” she recalls.                                                                                                                               whether that is their own family
     of sex, creed or colour – is in       Returning to England,                                                                                                                                   or a foster family. Love is what
     Caroline Cook’s DNA. That’s        Caroline and Mark decided to                                                                                                                               makes the world go round,”
       why she’s spent the past         adopt, welcoming three-month-                                                                                                                              says Caroline.
          15 years helping to           old Edward (now 38) into their                                                                                                                                Now, three weeks after the
reunite and rehome thousands            lives. Their joy doubled when                                                                                                                              birth of her first grandchild,
of orphaned, abandoned or               Caroline fell pregnant with                                                                                                                                Caroline is filled to the brim
vulnerable youngsters with their        William (now 37).                                                                                                                                          with love and pride. With baby
own familes or foster families             Much of their childhood was                                                                                                                             Sebastian safely here, she can
worldwide.                              spent in the Far East, but they                                                                                                                            confess what she’d never have
   A former nanny who trained           returned to England in the early                                                                                                                           admitted beforehand – that she
at the Princess Christian College       Nineties, when Mark was posted                                                                                                                             very secretly hoped for a little
after leaving school at 18,             to a base in Wiltshire.                                                                                                                                    boy. “He’s the apple of our eye
Caroline (68) admits: “I’ve always         After 25 years as an army                                                                                                                               and we’re absolutely thrilled
adored children and would love          wife, Caroline relished buying                                                                                                                             to bits. Becoming a gran is
to have had many more. So,              their first proper home, but                                                                                                                               everything I hoped it would
too, would husband Mark (66)            what happened next was                 Making a difference –                                                                                               be and more!” she says. But
with whom she co-founded their          totally unexpected. Posted to          Caroline’s charity has                                                                                              Caroline has plenty of love to
                                                                               helped change the lives
international charity, Hope and         the Balkans as the British UN                                                                                                                              spread around to children across
                                                                               of countless children
Homes for Children, in 1994.            Commander, Mark was shocked                                                                                                                                the world. Today, the charity
                                                                               caught in conflict
   Fate, though, had other plans        by the horrors he saw in Sarajevo.                                                                                                                         works across nine countries in
for them. Immediately after             Returning home, he told                                                                                                                                    Europe and Africa and how many
their 1967 wedding, the pair            Caroline how upset he’d been to                                                                                                                            thousands of children they’ve
began married life in army              discover 44 orphans cowering         commission and, with the help                                                                                         helped is “utterly impossible” to
quarters in the Far East, where         in the basement of a shelled-out     of a friend in the newspaper                                              ‘Children need buckets                      estimate. The charity goes into
Mark was serving with the               children’s institution. He knew      business, the pair posed as                                                                                           ravaged war-torn areas ‘when the
Gurkha Regiment.                        he had to act to help them, but      journalists heading for Sarajevo.                                         of love – whether that’s                    TV cameras have moved out.’
   Attempts to start a family           needed Caroline. “We agreed             “It was quite scary,” she                                                                                             “If we don’t help these children
met with no success for a               together we really must do           admits, recalling how they had                                            from their own family or                    who will?” asks Caroline, who
heartbreaking seven years.              something to help. It seemed the     to sit on wooden pallets on a                                                                                         two years ago received an OBE
“My maternal instinct had               right thing to do at that time.”     noisy Russian humanitarian                                                from a foster family’                       for her work. She adds: “It is a
                                           Mark resigned his Army            plane. During that three-day                                                                                          very different life to what I had
                                                                             visit to the war-ravaged area,       conditions. You could not help       has just written, giving us her             planned, but I’ve no regrets
‘Helping children is so                                                      Caroline found the children          but compare their lives to those     winter fuel allowance.”                     whatsoever. It is so rewarding and
                                                                             who’d been abandoned in the          of your own children.”                  Soon afterwards, Hope                    you can’t just walk away from
rewarding. It’s a very                                                       cellar of the shelled building.         Returning home, determined        and Homes for Children was                  something like this.”

                                                                                “I don’t cry that easily but it   to make a difference, Caroline       formed. By 1996, the Sarajevo
different life to what                                                       was heartbreaking. Their eyes        wrote thousands of personal          orphanage had been rebuilt. “I’ll   Yours     To support or find out more

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         PIC: PAUL CARTER/UNP
                                                                             told the whole story. They were      letters to anyone they could         never forget the joy and elation              about Hope and Homes
I’d planned but I’ve no                                                      frightened and bewildered. I         think of, begging for help. “It is   on their faces,” she recalls.                for Children, visit www.
                                                                             just felt complete disbelief to      amazing how generous people          But when the children were                   hopeandhomes.org or
regrets whatsoever’                                                          see children in such appalling       are and very humbling. One lady      asked what they really wanted                telephone 01722 790111.

16     YOURS    EVERY FORTNIGHT                                                                                                                                                                      YOURS    EVERY FORTNIGHT      17

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