Home to many... Foster carer Helen Gillam of Port Chalmers, stands outside the home she has opened to 167 foster children. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

Veteran foster carer Helen Gillam has been called many things. The baby whisperer, emergency helper and life-changer are a few examples.
But to the 167 children she has opened her home to, she is simply “Nan”.
In 1981 Helen, a single mother of three teenage children on the domestic purposes benefit, decided to help others.
“Being on the benefit and getting help myself I wanted to give back and do something, so I looked after two adoption babies.”
The newborn babies spent a few days with Helen (now aged 69), but her third foster baby, a 6-week-old girl named Kym remains with her to this day.
“Kym came and she went and I said if she comes back to me she should stay.”
In 1983, a year after first looking after Kym, and following health complications which meant Kym’s birth family could not look after her, Helen adopted her.
By 1995 Helen had seen it …