Extended family adored Heather

FOSTER PARENTS ... Heather Gateshill and her husband Allen.
FOSTER PARENTS ... Heather Gateshill and her husband Allen.

Heather Gateshill was like the “Pied Piper” of South Tyneside.

Everywhere she went she was surrounded by children who adored her.

For the last 20 years Heather and husband Allen had been foster parents, caring for 45 youngsters in total.

Her latest child was a three-year-old girl who found adoptive parents just days before the family flew to Spain for their summer holiday.

Daughter Mandy said: “Although they were foster children, they were still part of the family, they weren’t treated any different.

“They’d come on holidays with us and everything.

“We have all been so touched by the many lovely messages we’ve received from them.

“She was always so caring. When we were little a poorly old neighbour came to stay with us on our sofa for a few days.

“She ended up staying for years while mam looked after her, that’s just the way she was.”

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Heather was so well liked by her foster children, that when they were grown up, they would continue to visit her with their own children.

Next week she was due to attend a foster daughter’s wedding, for which she’d baked a cake.

Allen said: “Even at our golden wedding party it was a party for the children and not us.

“There was a disco and party bags for the kids, she just adored them and they adored her.

“She always had pop and cakes, so there was always children around her whereever she went.

“Heather was like the Pied Piper.”