Fostering Excellence Awards 2021

Read about the Fostering Excellence Awards in 2021, watch highlights from the ceremony and meet our amazing winners!

Since the first awards took place in 2014, the Fostering Excellence Awards have continued to grow year on year!

Over the last two years we have found ourselves in extraordinary circumstances with the coronavirus pandemic causing significant difficulties to everyday life, not least for fostering.  

Our awards ceremony was unable to take place in person again this year, however we held a full week of celebrations online where we heard from some familiar faces within the fostering community and celebrated the transformational power of fostering. The awards ceremony also took place online as part of the celebrations.

Guests tuned in to their devices across the UK to recognise the exceptional contributions made by our winners and to hear about some of their outstanding achievements.

We shared messages from special guests, including author Jacqueline Wilson and ex-international footballer and now foster carer, Neville Southall. They took to their screens to share their congratulations and appreciation for all the wonderful people in the fostering community.

Read about our 2021 winners by clicking on the award categories below.


Outstanding Achievement Award

Hannah - Hannah is currently studying to become a social worker with the hope of supporting children from similar backgrounds to her. Hannah also participates in The Skills to Foster training and talks honestly about her experiences and contributes to fostering awareness and recruitment campaigns.

Brittany-Denise - Brittany-Denise has overcome multiple challenges and, during lockdown, passed a six-month course on autism while also working as a support worker for young and adult carers in the community. Now she is studying for her Higher National Certificate in Social Sciences. Hannah’s nominator said “Through a huge amount of work on her part she has grown into a strong and inspiring young woman who uses her voice to fight for those who struggle to use their own”

John - John has pushed himself out of his comfort zone and made a successful transition from an additional needs school to college. In his spare time, John has achieved level four and five Community Sports Leadership. He has also achieved a mentoring qualification, for which John has received a Spirit of Leadership Award. He has been a great advocate for the needs of children and has provided feedback to the care regulator on several occasions. 

Outstanding Achievement in Education Award

Jessica - Jessica is a determined young woman who has continued to achieve the highest possible grades in all assignments and exams in college. She was recently awarded an unconditional offer at university to study criminology and forensic sciences in university. 
Alongside her educational achievements she has completed at a high level in gymnastics and has even managed to make time to coach younger children in the sport. 

Maryjane - Maryjane has recently graduated after studying a Higher National Diploma in Photography. While studying, Maryjane worked long hours in two part-time jobs where she became a popular member of staff. Before going to university, Maryjane finished college obtaining a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma.

Outstanding Contribution by a Foster Carer Award - sponsored by The Mortgage Brain

Tim and Inge Hancock - In 2007 Tim and Inge answered an advert looking for foster carers to raise a sibling group of seven for the next 13 years. Tim and Inge became foster carers to all seven children, moving house to make room for everyone and ensuring the children could grow up together. Instilling in the children they look after that they are each special in their own way, Tim and Inge saw each child through to adulthood and beyond, where they still provide a strong support system as foster parents and now foster grandparents’.

Scott and Gina Murdoch - Scott and Gina have shown an incredible commitment to fostering, not least by instilling a love of fostering among their seven children, a number of whom have become foster carers themselves! In addition to looking after many young people in over a decade of fostering, they have also been a huge support to their fostering community, helping their service with recruitment campaigns, interviewing staff for the family placement teams and providing advice, short breaks and practical help to their fellow foster and kinship carers.

Karen Hardaker - Karen is so passionate about foster care and making a difference to young peoples’ lives that she also became a social worker. Karen is an unwavering advocate for the children she looks after, always pushing for what’s best for them while providing a shining example of unconditional support. The young person who nominated Karen described her as his ‘rock’ and ‘amazingly stubborn’. They said, ‘Karen is there for you through thick and thin and you are part of her family forever!’

Jon and Kathy Broad Award

Gordon and Rhonda Milne - Gordon and Rhonda began fostering in 2017 and became the permanent foster carers of their first child with significant learning difficulties. With Rhonda leaving her job so that the couple together could provide the young person they looked after with the necessary attention, they committed themselves to his care working with relevant agencies to help him develop his communication, abilities and independence. They even took the young person into consideration as they planned their home, creating a space that will accommodate him when he is older.

Outstanding Contribution by Sons and Daughters Award - sponsored by Williams Giles

Calum - To Calum fostering is not just about sharing his toys and his home, it's about opening his family to other children so they can know what it means to grow up safe, loved and happy.  He also enjoys being a role model. Asked why he thinks fostering is so important Calum said: ‘I find it hard to believe and very sad that there are thousands of children living without their own families. I know it's not their fault and that's very unfair. It doesn't make any difference to me sharing my home but I know it must make such a difference to them knowing that people care.’

Tilly and Penny - Tilly and Penny have gone to great lengths for the children in their fostering family. They have learned sign language for one of their little ones and even moved house recently, away from their school and friends, to be closer to the hospital the child they care for gets treated at. ⁠Penny and Tilly love fostering and will seize every opportunity to talk about it. The sisters even raise awareness of the importance of foster care in school.

Heather - Heather has been nominated by the family’s social worker who described her as ‘naturally very loving and fully empathetic of what the child/young person is going through. She has not only helped teach the children they look after how to swim, ride bikes and tie their laces, she has also stepped in and took on home schooling her foster siblings with creativity and patience during lockdown.⁠ Heather puts her all into supporting the children that live with her and makes sure the children that come to live with her settle in well.

Outstanding Contribution by a Social Worker Award

Lorraine Bird - Lorraine was nominated by her colleague and a foster carer who she has been supervising social worker for the last 10 years. Foster carer Liz,  who nominated Lorraine, said ‘I know that Lorraine cares very much for the children and all of her foster families.’ And ‘she is very highly spoken of by every foster carer who have had the pleasure of working with her.’  Lorraine shows initiative and determination in the support of her foster families, often recognising opportunities outside of her role and going the extra mile to make them a reality.

Abiola Banwo - The foster carer who nominated Abiola said ‘after a difficult ending to a placement Abiola took the time to show me enormous kindness which has meant I have continued to be a foster carer.’ Abiola is a joyous person who brings her whole self to her role. She brings kindness and empathy into her dealings with everyone and is described as often being ‘the person asking the wise question that gets to the heart of the issue.’

Jo Merry - Jo was nominated by a foster carer who she supported with transitions of children from foster care to adoption. The first transition was over 100 miles away and Jo drove the foster carer and the child, stayed with her in rented accommodation, did the shopping and cooked dinner to allow the foster carer to focus on the children. Her nominator said ‘Jo was an enormous emotional support through the transition. She did exactly the same thing two years later. Her support, her humour and her kindness kept me going.’ 

Claudette Coke - Claudette’s colleagues describe the time she joined them in 2014 as a ‘time of great change and energy within the service.’ Claudette really valued foster carers. She saw how important it was to listen to their opinion and recognise their contribution as part of the fostering team. She always encouraged her carers to develop, and each year she made sure there was funding for their annual ball and that it was in a beautiful venue. 
Sadly Claudette passed away in March of this year as a result of Covid-19. Claudette’s death rocked the fostering service and her passing was a personal and professional loss for her colleagues, friends and foster carers. 

President's Award

Michael and Paul Atwal Brice - The fostering community in England would not be the same without Paul and Michael Atwal-Brice. The couple started opening their home to children in care over a decade ago and they have since transformed numerous lives. Paul, who is care experienced himself, and Michael are not only brilliant foster carers, they are also fantastic advocates for fostering and raise awareness of its transformational power at any given opportunity. The couple are particularly passionate to get more people from the LGBTQ+ community to come forward to foster. Paul’s and Michael’s dedication and commitment to fostering is second to none, and over the years they have continuously helped make foster care the very best it can be.

Susie Adams, Adeline Lansdell and Dianne McNabb - Susie, Adeline and Dianne are foster carers within The Fostering Network’s Step Up Step Down service and provide support for families on the edge of care, to enable children to live at home with their birth families. The support each of the carers provide to families depends on individual family needs, and Dianne, Adeline and Susie are skilled at tailoring this to meet each family’s specific needs.  

Foster carers being at the heart of this innovative and important role is vital, and central to the incredible outcomes we have seen.  During the five years the service has been running, a remarkable 159 children have been supported to remain at home and 22 were removed from the child protection register.

In the words of a parent who worked with Step Up Step Down: ‘It’s because of the support I received from my Step Up Step Down foster carer that we are still together as a family. I know I'm a better parent now.’

Elizabeth Falconer - Elizabeth, or Betty to those who know her, has been involved in many aspects of our work in Scotland – attending foster walks, being a foster carer champion through our Champions project, sitting on our Young Advocates steering group – all alongside having a busy fostering household.  

Betty and the young person she fosters have recently been on our Scotland magazine cover, and during one of the lockdown periods completed an outdoor challenge walking 426 miles over two weeks! 

Stuart - Stuart provides unconditional love, support and commitment as a full time foster carer and is integral in supporting and advocating for the wider fostering community and sector in Wales. Stuart is pro-actively involved in the bigger picture of fostering, striving to bring improvements across the sector, so that everyone has a positive experience of foster care. He has a wealth of fostering and social care knowledge, skills and experience, which he shares through his role as associate trainer, consultant and volunteer for The Fostering Network in Wales. 

Stuart has a genuine passion to help others succeed and through his role as a fostering trainer he has empowered and motivated hundreds of foster carers throughout Wales. He has a natural ability to connect with people at all levels and is an excellent communicator, inspiring all who meet and work with him.

Fostering Community Supporter Award

The Watson Family - Rosie and Mark Watson and their five boys set themselves a tough goal of walking or running 10 miles every day over the month of May.  By the end of May the Watsons had 310 miles under their belts and raised more than £1,000 for The Fostering Network, an incredible amount. Rosie said: ‘We are a family who love fostering, and we believe in every child's potential. Fundraising for The Fostering Network allows us to support them in making a difference to the lives of many children in care.’

Fostering Friendly Employer of the Year Award
NHS Durham Clinical Commissioning Group - NHS Durham CCG are the first Fostering Friendly employer in their local health sector and receive the award in recognition of their tireless work to raise awareness of fostering within the sector at every opportunity.  Fostering Friendly employers put in place flexible policies to support their employees who foster and help raise awareness of the vital role foster carers play, all for the benefit of local children.