Peter's proud moment

A Burston man who has fostered 135 children has been named East Anglia's Grandparent of the Year.

A Burston man who has fostered 135 children has been named East Anglia's Grandparent of the Year.

Peter Schaay, who is known for his kind heart and wacky dress sense, won the Age Concern award, in association with opticians Specsavers.

Since he married wife Rosie, the couple have fostered 135 children, raised six children of their own, adopted another son and also welcome children from Belarus for summer holidays.

Kelly Rush, 29, Peter's daughter-in-law said: 'I admire him - the fact that he gets so much pleasure from giving so much to so many people without expecting anything back. He has such ongoing optimism with life and although Peter and his wife do so much for others and don't get anything back, they keep doing it.'

Known for his wacky fashion sense (a current favourite being fluorescent orange padded dungarees) and his unquenchable optimism, Peter not only looks after foster children but with his wife runs a monthly farmers' market, makes wooden rocking horses, and teaches woodwork to local children as a volunteer. He also helps take care of a menagerie of animals including chickens, a Vietnamese pig and a cow called Aardvark.

Mr Schaay said: 'I'm very pleased to be a regional winner but I don't see myself as anyone special. I'm still a kid at heart in many ways so that is probably why I get on with children.

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'I have never found it hard to look after children, it came naturally to me.'

Now in its 18th year, the competition has received thousands of heart-felt nominations from relatives and friends to recognise the pivotal role that older people play in family and community life.

Helen Taylor, Age Concern local representative, presented Peter with his award.

'It was a very difficult decision but we felt that Peter was a real inspiration to both his family and within his community,' she said.

Mr Schaay, who is one of 12 regional winners, received a trophy and goody bag containing a �150 Specsavers eyecare voucher.