Foster carers in Essex have been honoured at an exclusive awards ceremony.

The celebratory gathering was organised by Essex County Council and saw more than 100 foster carers in attendance at Channels Estate, Chelmsford on June 12.

Awards were given out in six categories, focusing on various areas such as providing emergency placements for youth in crisis and supporting children with additional needs to thrive.

Every winner was given their award by Helen Lincoln, executive director for children, families and education at Essex County Council, and Sukriti Sen, director of local delivery.

Irene and Clifford have been fostering for 45 years Irene and Clifford have been fostering for 45 years (Image: Submitted)

Ms Lincoln praised the foster carers, saying: "They are inspiring and committed, it's an amazing role.

"We thank every foster carer for their dedication."

Among the honoured were Irene and Clifford Sapsford from Tendring, who received a Long Service Award for an exceptional 45 years of fostering.

Over their fostering tenure, they have provided a safe home for more than 100 vulnerable children.

In her speech, Irene Sapsford said: "45 years is a long time but it’s gone very quick, it’s so rewarding, especially when they go off to a happy home."

In Mid-Essex, Carly and Keith McHugh from St Lawrence were awarded for ‘Enabling children’s voices to be heard’.

Carly McHugh said: "It’s an important role to help these children and we all want to do our best."

In North Essex, Angela Woodhead was praised for ‘Supporting children with additional needs to reach their potential’.

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Ms Woodhead said: “We’re used to a busy home with children around so we began fostering four years ago, and the first young lad we fostered has become a part of our family.

"He didn’t know what it was to be loved and now he does."

Essex County Council is urging more people to consider fostering.

To find out more about becoming a foster carer, visit or call 0800 801 530.