Pride of Britain Awards 2004: Carer of the Year: 800 CALL HER MUM; Birdie McDonald, 62, from West London, Foster Mum since 1973 Amazing Birdie's 31 Years of Fostering Homeless Kids
Byline: CLARE GOLDWIN
THE figure alone sounds absolutely incredible, but over 31 years Birdie McDonald has been foster mum to 800 children from around the world.
Some have stayed for just a night, but to the woman who cannot say 'no' to an appeal for help, many remain a part of the family.
Last night Birdie, 62, was joined on-stage by five of the hundreds of children she has cared for over the years, and their families.
Donovan Cleary, 30, was one of the first to be taken in at her home in West London at the age of two and grew up there.
He said: "She's the greatest woman you could ever meet, who has changed all of our lives.
"She is mum to us all and we can always turn to her. There are many people out there doing a mother's role, but to do it for someone else's children day in, day out with no thanks takes a special kind of person."
Also saluting Birdie on-stage were brother and sister Junior, 21, and Carla Dixon, 23, Sharmain Kayondo, 17, and one of Birdie's current charges, 15-year-old Serena Davies.
But it was the arrival of one tiny little boy that reduced her to floods of tears.
In front of millions granddaughter Clodine Linson surprised her, walking on-stage cradling the great-grandson she had not yet seen.
Eleven week-old Fredrick Linson was born in Houston, Texas, and was flown over with his mother to make Birdie's day extra-special.
Holding her great-grandson last night Birdie said: "It has been a day that I can honestly say I will never forget.
"I never imagined I would end up fostering hundreds of children, but I wouldn't change it for the world and being given the chance to meet my great-grandson is an experience that will live with me forever."
I'm A Celebrity star Kerry McFadden, who a few weeks ago was crowned Queen of the Jungle, presented the award of Carer of the Year - declaring Birdie the "real royalty". …