Among those helped by Chris Meadows, a foster carer for more than 30 years, is a newborn girl left in a park in a holdall.
She and her husband of 49 years, retired London Ambulance Service worker Peter, have cared for more than 80 little Londoners.
Now the grandmother from Islington has been awarded an MBE for services to fostering by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace.
The 68-year-old mostly looks after under-fives but also fosters older children and those with disabilities. She said: “It was a lovely day at the palace and meeting Prince Charles.”
Christmas can be tough for fostered children, who may have suffered abuse or neglect, or been removed from their parents for safety. Some youngsters are brought in by police “in the middle of the night”, Mrs Meadows said.
“You get a phone call, ‘There’s a newborn, can you take them?’ A one-year-old came into the country at 1am on Boxing Day. The mum’s application was being assessed so the child was brought into care while they were looking into it. I’ve had a newborn left in the park. Luckily the mum came forward.”
In another case, brothers aged two and three were abandoned on a bench at a train station. The mother also came forward.
This year the couple are looking after a little girl who said she was determined to go swimming outdoors on Christmas Day, after zooming around on the new bike Father Christmas will bring her.
Mrs Meadows said: “At Christmas the older ones, from about four or five, tend to worry about their parents. They ask, ‘Can I buy mummy a present,’ or, ‘Why can’t I see daddy on Christmas Day?’ You just make it as enjoyable as possible for them.”
Islington council said it was “very grateful” to her for making “a huge difference to the lives of many children”.
Police are trying to trace the mother of a baby boy, named Harry by medics, found wrapped in a blanket in a park near Balaam Street, Plaistow, on September 17. Ring officers on 101.