Richard Foster was elected as a Conservative member for Cottesmore in May 2015 and is one of three portfolio holders who oversee Rutland County Council’s People Directorate. Services delivered by ‘People’ help some of the most vulnerable members of the community and Coun Foster is responsible for the safeguarding of children and young people.
Coun Foster has lived in Stretton since 1999 but has close ties to Rutland going back more than 40 years. “I was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1969 and selected to fly helicopters with 230 Squadron at RAF Wittering,” explained Coun Foster.
“From high up in a Westland Whirlwind I soon gained an appreciation for the beautiful Rutland landscape and, when off duty, got to experience what life in the county was like.”
After flying for the UN in Cyprus, Coun Foster went on to teach aircrew survival and became a flying instructor specialising in search and rescue techniques.
He was later appointed Inspector of Land Rescue, which involved all aspects of the equipment, training and leadership of the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service.
“My career in the RAF came to an end in 2004, following 35 fantastic years in service,” said Coun Foster.
“After this I was delighted to be appointed as county field officer for the Royal British Legion for Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire, which provided support for ex-servicemen, women and their families.”
Coun Foster retired at the end of 2013 and feels his time in the RAF and with the Legion will help him greatly in his role as a councillor.
“I’m used to leading staff and managing budgets, having spent £3.5 million over ten years to help the ex-service community.
“As a welfare caseworker for the Legion I also came into contact with people in difficult circumstances, so I’m used to helping those in need.”
This included working with hard-pressed families, the homeless and helping to rehabilitate prisoners following their release.
“Retirement has also given me the chance to develop closer links with the local community – as a volunteer driver with Voluntary Action Rutland, chairman of Stretton Parish Council and the honorary welfare officer for the Rutland branch of the Royal Air Forces’ Association.”
As the portfolio holder for Safeguarding Children and Young People, Coun Foster covers looked-after children, fostering, adoption and support for young people with special needs.
“The council has previously had two Cabinet members for People Services but this administration has decided safeguarding children is so important as to warrant a dedicated Cabinet member, underlining our commitment in this area.
“Every child is unique and we aim to ensure that young people in our care receive the same level of support and attention as you would expect from their birth parents.
“We also work closely with neighbouring authorities to find the best possible placements for fostering and adoption, from age 0 through to 18.
“Lastly, we want everyone to know the safety of children is an absolute priority and that, wherever needed, we will take swift and decisive action to protect young people.”
For more information about safeguarding children and young people in Rutland or to find out how to get in touch with your local councillor, please visit: www.rutland.gov.uk