Fostering Excellence Awards 2023 – winners

On Tuesday 17 October we were at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre for the Fostering Excellence Awards 2023, sponsored by The Mortgage Brain. 

We celebrated our fantastic winners, who arrived with their guests from across the UK  it was a special afternoon spent recognising their achievements and the difference they make. Read on to find out more about this year's winners.

Read about our winners stories and see photos from the event here.

The Fostering Network award for foster carers, sponsored by The Mortgage Brain

Johnjoe Largey 

Johnjoe currently cares for two 12-year-old boys on a long-term basis providing them with attention, consistency and love which has enabled them to thrive and begin to achieve their potential. He also looks after babies on a short-term basis, caring for them until they are ready to move on to a more permanent home.   

Johnjoe supports foster carer training and recruitment and was described in his nomination from a retired social work senior manager as ‘simply inspiring.’    

Luke, Johnjoe’s partner said: ‘Johnjoe is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. His compassion is simply unmatched when it comes to looking after young people’. 

Pamela Wilkinson 

Pamela and her partner look after a boy with additional needs. They fight his corner so he has everything he needs and deserves. This includes finding the right school and spending important one-to-one time with him doing things that he enjoys. 

They were nominated for the award by the boy’s sister, Destiny, as a sign of her and her brother’s gratitude. 

Destiny said: ‘We as a family have gained another family with Pam and her partner. They will do anything to make our lives secure and fun. They never fail to make my brother feel valued and have shown us what family really means.’ 

Steve and Lynne Parry 

Steve and Lynne started fostering for Foster Wales Conwy in 2011 and it very quickly became clear how skilled they were in caring for teenagers. 

They have embraced all the new situations that have come with fostering, including supporting young people in their education to welcoming a mother and baby placement.   

In her nomination, their social worker Sian McBride said Lynne and Steve ‘are a rare breed of foster carers in their understanding of teenagers, the ability to be flexible when needed, with bags of warmth, understanding, nurture and humour.’ 

Delores and Jose Archer 

Delores and Jose were nominated for showing outstanding commitment to meeting the needs of children in their care. They provide a safe and nurturing family home to all the young people who have come to live with them.   

They have fostered several unaccompanied asylum-seeking children over the years, supporting them to maintain their own cultural identities, while teaching them about British culture and supporting them to learn English. 

Their supervising social worker Verna said: ‘Delores and Jose always go the extra mile to achieve the best outcomes for the children they care for, which is a testament to their passion and dedication to fostering.’ 

Paul and Sam Richardson 

Paul and Sam permanently foster seven children and young people and have one adopted son. They were nominated by their foster daughter Hollye, who says the couple have always made their foster children feel safe and secure.  

They go above and beyond for all the young people they look after, whether it be home-schooling, teaching practical skills or showing endless determination and support in helping people. When Hollye turned 18, the couple bought her a flat to make sure she always had a stable home nearby.  

The Fostering Network award for kinship foster carers, sponsored by The Mortgage Brain

Philomela and Malcom 

Philomela and Malcom have been caring for their three grandchildren since February 2022 and are described by a ‘tremendous team’ by social worker Emma Rogers, who nominated them. 

Philomela has also shown dedication to furthering her education so she can be the best kinship carer possible. She was recently awarded a BA Honours degree in health and social care and supports other foster and kinship carers in The Skills to Foster™ course.  

Malcom is there for Philomela, while quietly supporting the children. He’s built a great relationship with social workers to ensure the best outcomes for the children. 

Jon and Kathy Broad Special Recognition Award

Noorjahan Begum and Mohammed Kasem  

Noorjahan and Mohammed foster with Coventry City Council Fostering Service and provide outstanding care for a little girl with complex medical needs.  

They ensured she was protected during the pandemic and completed medical training so they could confidently provide life-saving care to her. On several occasions they responded to emergency incidents and remained by her side during overnight hospital visits.   

Hospital staff have been impressed by the couples nurturing approach and often relied on the couple’s expertise regarding the girl’s medical condition.  

Andy and Helen McDade

Andy and Helen have cared for two siblings since 2016, after they arrived in their home on an emergency basis. Due to the significant additional needs of one of the siblings, the couple chose to give up full time work so they could prioritise their care.  

One of the siblings had to undergo significant surgery, so Andy and Helen made personal sacrifices to make sure someone was always with him to show love, support and reassurance.  

They are part of the Mockingbird programme and are also fantastic advocates for fostering, regularly taking part in recruitment drives and supporting publicity with Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council.  

The Fostering Network award for children of foster carers, sponsored by Williams Giles



Sam, aged 13, has been praised for having patience and understanding beyond his years when supporting the two girls his family look after. He has taken his duties as a big brother very seriously, and also taught the girls to paddleboard, which they now love.  

The family have faced challenges over the years, including bereavement, but the support Sam has shown has been unwavering. 

Earlier this year, Sam’s mum was taken into hospital, and he put his own worries aside to support and reassure the girls as he knew they’d be worried. 

Grace Forkgen from Aberlour Fostering said: ‘I credit Sam for the difference he has made in the girls’ life. Without his support, help and role modelling, it may not have been possible for them to feel so welcomed, safe and loved.’ 

Rory and Izzabelle 

Rory and Izzabelle have been a vital support system for their parents and fostered siblings, approaching them with maturity, kindness and humour. They have welcomed new children into their homes, doing everything they can to make them feel a part of the family.  

Izzabelle recently shared her experiences, which resulted in Coventry City Council setting up a group of children of foster carers. The group works together to suggest how support for fostering families can be improved.  

Rory has overcome his fear of speaking publicly to share his family’s experiences of fostering and improve services. 


Megan’s parents have fostered with Foster Wales Rhondda Cynon Taff since 2008, and in this time, Megan has been a pillar of support to her family. 

When her Mum recently became unwell and had to spend time in hospital, Megan helped with the day-to-day care of the twin boys the family care for, who Megan considers as her brothers. 

Megan is also balancing studies for her pharmacy degree. Sarah Hanspal-Blake, supervising social worker says: ‘Megan has not complained once and has blown me away with the help she’s given to the boys and her Dad.’  

Her invaluable support, from household tasks, taking the boys to after school sessions and caring for them during the school holidays has not gone unnoticed – vitally, allowing the boys to stay with them. 


Lia has been praised for her patience and understanding after a toddler her parents were caring for was diagnosed with a serious illness and had numerous hospital visits over 18 months – the longest lasting two months.  

Lia had to spend weeks at a time away from her mum, who lived in hospital alongside the toddler. 

Despite these challenges, Lia is a brilliant advocate for foster care. She’s always happy to share her parents and has befriended many children over the years.  

Donna Newton, team manager at City of Doncaster fostering service said: ‘I would like to thank her for the sacrifices that she has made over the last year and the continued care she has shown to her family during this difficult time. Lia is a special girl who loves putting positivity in children’s lives to give them a good start.’ 

The Fostering Network award for a social work team 

Royal Borough of Greenwich 

The fostering team at the Royal Borough of Greenwich are a motivated and hard-working team. 

Their dedication has helped build The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme in Greenwich, improving the stability of fostering placements by building a community of people around them. 

The team has also transformed foster carer recruitment and retention through the Brilliant Outcome Together programme. Their pioneering work has attracted the attention of Department for Education and Ofsted and The Fostering Network.  

Equality and diversity is also a priority for the team. They have a well-established Black & Minority Ethnic support group who advise foster carers and staff, and they hold a yearly Black History Month event.  

City of Edinburgh Council 

The specialist disability foster care team at City of Edinburgh Council have been making a difference to the lives of children and foster carers for almost two decades.  

They support children and young people with a range of additional needs, working hard to form long-standing relationships with their 144 carers. 

Each member of the team shares the passion for ensuring children with additional needs live their best possible lives.   

Together, they work tirelessly to support their foster carers and the young people they care for. They invite foster carers to help shape their service and offer support groups, short breaks and more. Their retention of foster carers has shown to be above average in recent years – a true reflection of their outstanding work. 

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham 

The fostering team at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham were awarded for their dedication to setting up the Mockingbird programme in the borough – an extended family model which improves the stability of foster care.  

Children and young people have experienced increased self-esteem, confidence and a sense of belonging as a result. 

Their innovative thinking led to an increase in foster carer and staff retention, placement stability and improved sibling contact.  

The team are also devoting their time to supporting other local authorities to set up Mockingbird, sharing best practice to help achieve the best for children, young people and foster carers.   

South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust 

The fostering team within the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust first became involved in the Step Up Step Down pilot seven years ago.   

The Fostering Network’s service provides a tailored approach to support families on the edge of care, ‘stepping up’ when families need additional support and ‘stepping down’ when families are in a better place. 

The team have used a trauma informed and nurturing approach to support 125 parents in this time and 95 per cent of children they supported through Step Up Step Down have remained at home, safely.  

Thy have embedded the service as a core part of their practice, working collaboratively with The Fostering Network to make sure everyone is supported in the best way to suit their needs. 

Foster Wales Anglesey 

Foster Wales Anglesey go above and beyond to support fostering families and work closely with Anglesey Foster Carers Association to help ensure the best outcomes for children and young people.  

They are always looking for ways to improve the wellbeing of fostering families, having recently launched sessions to support foster carers to prioritise their mental health. 

The team work to build the family unit for children and young people in foster care and help the foster carer association organise events such as summer activity days. 

They took their dedication to new heights – climbing the three highest peaks in Wales as part of Foster Care Fortnight 2023, raising money for their foster care association.    

The Fostering Network award for young people, sponsored by John Lewis Partnership


Eleanor came to live with her foster carer Jokë, who fosters with Foster Wales Pembrokeshire, when she was five years old.  

After arriving with Jokë, Eleanor always tried her best and was determined to overcome difficult times. With perseverance, Eleanor enrolled in a Uniform Protected Services course at college two years ago. Her determination shone through, as she passed with flying colours, has secured a place at university and aims to work in the police force.  

Jokë credits Eleanor for all she has done to make a success of her life and says that she will ‘be by her all the way – my home is her home.’ 


Chloe moved in with her foster carers when her daughter was three months old. Despite facing personal challenges along the way, they have both thrived. Chloe has shown outstanding determination to be the best mum to her baby while juggling GCSE revision and exams. 

Chloe recently passed all her GCSEs and has started college, with a view of one day going to university. 

Alison Kelly from North Lincolnshire Fostering Service, who nominated Chloe, said: ‘It’s been amazing to see Chloe’s confidence go from strength-to-strength since coming into care. We could not be prouder of Chloe, she is working so hard not only for herself, but for her daughter.’ 


Ruby has been with her foster carer Fiona since the age of five and has flourished ever since.  

As an athlete with Disability Sport Fife, Ruby has a long list of achievements. She recently won the peer support and involvement award at her school Sports Personality of the Year Awards and has achieved National 5 in PE. At this year’s Scottish Learning Disability Sport Summer Games she won five medals in swimming – including four gold – and is a member of the Scottish Disability Sport Young Persons Sports Panel.  

Ruby is an ‘excellent role model’ and encourages athletes of all abilities to get active and is a young ambassador at school, as well as volunteering at sports classes for young people with additional needs. 


Adnan has been living with his foster carers Elaine and Barry, who foster with Lancashire County Council, from March 2021, after arriving to the UK as an unaccompanied asylum seeker. To begin with, Adnan could not speak or understand any English.  

He is now fluent in spoken and written English and has achieved so much, including playing for Lancashire’s under 18 cricket team and thriving at a private school after securing a scholarship. 

Chloe Jones, Adnan’s supervising social worker, said: ‘Adnan never ceases to amaze me with his achievements, and unsurprisingly, the whole team are so proud of him.’ 

Fostering Community Supporter award 

Danny Kingston 

Danny’s family have fostered for over 10 years, making a huge difference to many children’s lives during this time. Having seen the direct impact fostering has on children and young people, Danny took on the brave challenge of completing a 15,000 feet skydive to raise money for The Fostering Network. 

He raised more than £750 in the process, which helps provide vital support to fostering families across the UK.  

Fostering Friendly employer of the year award

John Lewis Partnership 

As one of our Fostering Friendly employers, the team at the John Lewis Partnership are exceptional supporters of the fostering community – including foster carers and young people with care experience. 

They go far beyond the requirements of the scheme, such as offering additional paid time off under a child placement policy and extending support to kinship carers. 

Their Building Happier Futures programme also offers many opportunities to care experienced young people.  

During Foster Care Fortnight 2023, the team used their stores to raise awareness of foster care, invited foster carers for pamper sessions and supported Foster Walks in London and Cardiff and