Hundreds to pay respects to mum who fostered 300 Hackney children

Hundreds of foster children are set to pay their last respects to a loving mum who cared for more than 300 youngsters in Hackney as well as raising eight of her own.

Ursil Lewis MBE, or Nanny as she was affectionately known, passed away peacefully after a stroke earlier this month, but her life will be remembered and celebrated at a moving funeral service next Friday (June 22).

Mrs Lewis, who was 70, leaves behind eight children and a legacy that stretches right across the borough having fostered hundreds of youngsters over 35 years.

Such was her commitment to providing a better life for Hackney’s children, she was awarded the MBE at Buckingham Palace in 1999 by Prince Charles.

Her story was featured in the Hackney Gazette back then and also highlighted by ITV’s London Tonight programme.

Mrs Lewis’s funeral will be at St John’s Church in Mare Street at 10am. Friends, former colleagues, family and the many children to have passed through Mrs Lewis’s care will pay their respects.

Eldest son Stephen said: “Ever since she came to this country in the early sixties, my mum was of the ‘each one, reach one’ ethos.

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“Like many other Caribbean arrivals, her first thought when she got here was how she could help other people and be of service to the local community.

“As a devout Christian, that was her life. She could never stand by and see someone struggling, whether it was for a roof over their heads, food, money, emotional problems, anything.

“Fostering through the borough for her was a natural progression and enabled her to reach out to so many more deprived or vulnerable children. White, black, whatever nationality - it didn’t matter.”

Hackney Council’s assistant director of children and young people’s services, Sheila Durr, said: “Mrs Lewis was a passionate advocate for children and a firm believer in equality.

“She ran a warm multi-cultural household and instilled her values in all of her children and young people.

“Mrs Lewis’s daughter Annette followed closely in her mother’s footsteps as a Hackney foster carer. Our sincere condolences go to Annette and all members of the family.”

*Were you fostered by Mrs Lewis? Contact reporter Chloe Mayer on 0208 477 3774 or email