Silver lining to Bo’ness family’s year of pain

260512 Brian kirkwood with family, keano, claire and clair.
260512 Brian kirkwood with family, keano, claire and clair.

A BO’NESS family which experienced a “horrendous” year is now celebrating with a Central FM “Local Hero” award and a sunshine break to look forward to.

Brian Kirkwood was declared parent/foster parent of the year at a glitzy bash at the Airth Castle Hotel.

Daughter Clair (19) nominated Brian, who as well as looking out for her, is also a full-time foster dad to six-year-old Keano.

Brian of Ochilview Place said: “It was completely out the blue. I didn’t even know she’d done it until a few days beforehand. You just feel kind of humbled.”

Central FM presenter Steve Courtney of Bo’ness was an award host and Brian and Clair were piped in and enjoyed a champagne reception before the winners were revealed.

Brian (49), wife Claire (38), and family were put “through the mill” last year with illness striking several loved ones.

Brian told the Journal and Gazette: “My wife had collapsed at her work first, then about a week later at the dentist in Linlithgow. We’ve found out since it’s a type of migraine.

“My daughter had been ill for a while and was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.

“My mum got diagnosed with breast cancer and my friend with cancer. The wee man has been on a course of treatment too.

“I couldn’t wait for the year to finish. Every time we turned round somebody else was ill.

“It was a big strain. I have never lived through anything like that. It was heavy going, not just for me, for everybody but you couldn’t let Keano see how much it was hurting.”

Brian’s mum and friend have now been given the all clear and his wife and daughter are managing their conditions.

Clair, a junior stylist at the Edinburgh Modelling Academy and River Island assistant, said: “My dad’s done so much for everybody else, always putting everyone else first. He’s amazing and I want to thank him for being there for me.

“I’m really proud. He’s a deserved winner. I think he was shellshocked, he’s very modest.”

Football-daft Keano, who was the Bo’ness team mascot at the recent Fair Day versus Gala Day fundraiser, plays for LK Galaxy. He goes to Beavers and recently saw Chief Scout Bear Grylls.

Brian said: “The bit that stands out for me is that people who don’t know Keano wouldn’t know he’s fostered. That to me shows you the work he’s done. It’s the children that have to do all the work. We are here for them.”

Brian, who cites patience as his key parenting skill, added: “I don’t treat Keano any different as I do Clair, you treat them as your own.”

He said the fostering - which he encourages others to try - was a team effort with his wife and Clair.

Nicola Fearon of Aberlour Fostering said: “No one deserves this award more than Brian and we’re really proud of him and what he’s achieved during his many years of fostering.

“It’s thanks to people like Brian and the other foster parents that we can give so many young people a caring, loving environment to thrive in.”

Aberlour contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Kirkwoods have £2000 for a family holiday.