THE creator of Downton Abbey has thrown his support behind a new centre in West Dorset for families looking to adopt a child.

The new Families for Children building at Herringston Barn, near Dorchester, was officially opened by Julian Fellowes.

Organisers, charity staff, families helped by the organisation and children were all at the ceremony.

Lord Fellowes said he was a great believer in adoption and he was delighted that there was an adoption centre in Dorchester.

He added: “It’s a second chance at having a secure childhood for people that have started without one. “It’s central to what happens to people in later life.”

The Families for Children charity was formed nearly 20 years ago and it helped find new homes for 34 children nationwide last year – including 14 in Dorset.

It specialises in finding new adoptive homes for children in council care and prides itself on the high level of post-adoption care provided for families.

Chief executive Caroline Davis, pictured left, said the charity was delighted with its new building.

She said: “Families for Children is a really vibrant and exciting charity.

“We focus on finding new adoptive homes for children in local authority care up and down the country.”

She added that many children were ‘severely traumatised’ by their early experiences, and so the charity put so much emphasis on their post-adoption care.

Mrs Davis said she had a great team of dedicated people.

She said: “Just like Downton Abbey, Families for Children depends on everyone doing their jobs at every level.”

One family that has been helped by the charity is Paula and Martin, who asked not to give their surname, and their adopted daughter Lilly-Mae.

The pair said they had received great care from the social worker involved with the charity, and that the charity had been very ‘family orientated’.

The family has now been together for three months.

Paula said: “It feels like we have been a family for much longer.

“She’s settled in really easily.”

The pair joked that the first time little Lilly-Mae had greeted them enthusiastically in the morning with ‘Mama, Dada, hiya’, it had melted their hearts – even though it was at 4am.