Gawcott woman who has fostered more than 100 children over the past 25 years awarded MBE

Judith Harper, who has been awarded an MBE for services to fostering, with her dog Swiper
Judith Harper, who has been awarded an MBE for services to fostering, with her dog Swiper

A woman from Gawcott has been awarded an MBE for her services to fostering.

Judith Harper has been honoured for her fostering work for both Bucks County Council and the independent agency Fostering Placement Company.

Judith is keen to stress that it is very much a family effort - with her husband Steve and her two daughters both involved in ensuring fostered children are made to feel welcome.

She said: "I love working with children - I worked at a nursery and helped out at groups such as Rainbows and Brownies.

"26 years ago when I was not very well I was worried about who would look after my own children if something happened to me.

"When I recovered I decided to consider fostering and I wanted to foster siblings so that I could try and keep them together when they may otherwise be separated.

"I would estimate that I have fostered about 100 children over the years.

"Some stay with us for a long time and some have stayed with us until they become young adults.

"At the moment we are looking after a young adult who is severely disabled.

"Fostering is a very rewarding thing to do - some children do very well academically and go on to get jobs.

"There are times when you are given a child and are told 'they may not be able to walk or talk' and then you help them to overcome that - that is particularly satisfying.

"I have been through phases with challenging children as well - I remember when a child I was fostering got excluded from school and I had to go in to a meeting with the staff - that was terrifying because it was something I had never had to do with my own children.

"You learn to deal with difficult children - I always remember that if they are kicking off they are often not angry at me - they just need to let off steam and sometimes I am just in the line of fire."

Since Judith began fostering she has had her house extended twice and as well as children she also has animals - her dog Swiper (pictured), a duck and some geese.

She said: "I don't worry about the fact that I don't get much time to myself or that it is difficult to get peace and quiet!"

Judith is a passionate charity supporter and organises the Gawcott Mile every year in aid of Alec's Angels, set up in memory of Hillesden youngster Alec Jarvis, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010 and sadly died a year later.

Judith said: "Alec attended a holiday club I was involved in running and I got to know him quite well when he was seriously ill.

"One of my foster daughters runs in the event annually and it is wonderful when she sees that she is making a difference to others."

Judith currently has two children she is fostering long term, two children she has adopted and two of her own.