A FOSTER carer has won through to the final of a competition to find the nation’s hero.

Lesley Body, 40, from Sealand, was the regional winner for Wales in the HiQ Hero award, a scheme aiming to honour unsung heroes in the community.

Residents across the region are now being urged to vote for her online.

Lesley has been fostering for the last 15 years and has cared for 18 children over that time.

“I love fostering,” she said. “It’s a difficult job but it’s very rewarding.

“Fostering helps young people to have a family life and give them the best start they can get.

“I take a mixture of children needing long term care or those needing respite.

“Over the years I’ve had children ranging from aged two to 18. The children come from all kinds of backgrounds. We’re fostering three boys at the moment and they all get on well with each other.”

Lesley, who is married to Paul, was nominated for the award by his boss Bob White.

“There are 10 finalists in all,” said Lesley. “I’m hoping I stand a good chance.

“I was very surprised to have got through but it’s nice being thought of as a hero and to have got this far is fantastic.”

Peter Tye, retail director for car care company HiQ, said: “It was an extremely tough task whittling them down to 10 regional shortlisted finalists, but with the heroes now chosen we hope everyone can log on and vote for them.”

Lesley will find out if she has won at an awards ceremony in Birmingham in November.

Olympic gold medal winner Sally Gunnell will present the winner with a £5,000 cheque for a community project of their choice and £5,000 for themselves. Each regional winner will receive £250.

Lesley is not sure which community project she would donate the money to if she won but says she would want it to be a project helping children.

“I’d want it to be as local as possible,” she added.

Lesley currently fosters for a private company called Foster Care Associates who she says has given her fantastic support.

“Fostering is both a job and part of family life,” she said.

“Paul helps out when he’s not at work and we try to give the children a taste of family life as much as we can.”

To vote for Lesley go to www.hiqonline.co.uk/aboutUs/hiqHeroes.