Josie, 80, travelling to Peru to champion education

Josie Masters, 80-year-old who has set up nurseries in Peru and adopted 11 children over the years.
Josie Masters, 80-year-old who has set up nurseries in Peru and adopted 11 children over the years.
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An 80-year-old woman who gave birth to four, adopted 11 and fostered 69 children is sharing her child development skills with education officials in South America.

Josie Masters, of Elphaburrow Court, Mytholmroyd, said her desire to adopt began when she was a little girl, growing up in wartime Britain.

In 1963 Josie and husband Roger, 78, who worked as a senior chief at a public health laboratory in Reading, after having three children of their own, adopted their first child who was then deemed “handicapped” because of the colour of her skin.

The Masters family love grew as they adopted a second child in 1968.

Josie said: “I reached 40, the children were growing up, and I thought, what will I do now?”

Josie and Roger became foster parents for 25 years.

“Some children stayed with us for just a month, others 14 years,” she said.

“We sang, we danced but we always stuck to the rules - children need guidelines.”

The family adopted another five children before moving to Todmorden, in 1989, to allow them, through the authorities, to adopt four children who the couple had cared for, along with their birth mother, in the south of England.

In 1991, the couple travelled with ten of their children, aged 3-18, to Peru for six months but were warned to go home due to their high visibility - being a mixed race family in a terrorist country.

“The poverty out there was awful, children were just abandoned on the highway. I told myself when we were able to return we would do so to open nurseries,” said Josie.

In 1996, Josie and Roger travelled to Lima and opened a nursery for children aged six months to six years through their charity Hand in Hand Trust.

The couple went on to open eight nurseries and still have two open today, in Iquitos.

Upon returning, in October 2013, Josie received an email to ask if she would return to Lima, Peru, to teach local teachers how to teach three to six year-olds.

In January, Josie travelled alone to present to 100 female teachers and education officials.

“It was a wonderful experience. I got them all involved - it wasn’t their typical style of teaching.”

Josie will return in August to share her child development skills with Lima’s heads of education.

“I left school at 16 as my father did not believe in education for women. I believe in education for everyone that’s what I have emulated throughout my life.”

Josie said she has lived her life so far in every way she ever wished for.

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