Tributes paid to Sheffield ‘hero’ Brian the Hod who fostered more than 100 children
A Sheffield 'hero' who fostered more than 100 children while raising six of his own has died, aged 67.
Brian Fletcher and his wife Barbara took in around 120 babies at their home in High Green during his lifetime.
They also had three children themselves and adopted another three whom they had fostered, preventing those siblings from being separated.
Brian cared so much for little ones he devoted his life to supporting children's charities, for which he raised more than £100,000.
He even walked from Land's End to John o' Groats carrying a hod of bricks, in aid of Sheffield's Child Helpline, earning himself the nickname ‘Brian the Hod'.
Brian, who suffered with health problems for much of his life, undergoing a triple heart bypass in his later years, died on Sunday, January 27 at Northern General Hospital.
Lewis Fletcher was five when he and his two sisters were adopted by Brian and Barbara, who had previously fostered them, in 1999.
He said he and his sisters would otherwise have been split up and sent to live with different families - something Brian and his wife could not bear to see happen.
"Dad's my hero and he's been a hero to so many other children. Every child he and Mum took in was treated just like one of their own," said Lewis.
"I didn't have the best upbringing before I went into foster care, but they gave me a second chance in life and I owe them everything.
"Brian wasn't just my dad, he was a dad to scores of children. He and Mum must have changed thousands of nappies and put up with hundreds of sleepless nights, but they did it because they loved children so much.
"Dad had a very fulfilled life, and I don't think he would have changed a thing."
Brian was born in Baslow, Derbyshire, and did various jobs in his youth, including carpentry and dry stone walling, before becoming a full-time foster carer.
He was working as a bouncer at the Roxy nightclub, which is now the O2 Academy, when he met Barbara.
After tying the knot, they moved to High Green together and began fostering but found they had to extend their house to make space for all the children they took in.
Lewis said his dad was a keen Derby County fan, whose hobbies included making miniature dry stone walls and carving elaborate walking sticks.
He said Barbara plans to carry on fostering and he hopes everything his parents have done will help to raise awareness of foster carers, for whom the city is 'crying out'.
Brian is survived by Barbara, his birth children Mark, Richard and Clair, and his adopted children Lewis, Aysha and Louise.
His funeral will take place at Grenoside Crematorium next Friday, February 15, at 1pm, followed by a wake at High Green Working Men's Club.
His family has asked for any donations to be made to the charity Childline.
For more information about fostering in Sheffield, visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/fostering or call 0114 273 5075.