Hereford & Worcester

Foster couple Shirley and John Hanson appointed MBE

John Hanson and Freddie Image copyright Annie Neesham
Image caption John Hanson with one of his seven grandchildren, Freddie

A couple who have fostered 300 children over 39 years have been appointed MBEs.

Shirley and John Hanson have cared for up to five children at a time while running their farm in Leominster, Herefordshire, with their two sons.

Mrs Hanson, 69 and her 73-year-old husband, are showing no signs of slowing down.

"I love my job," said Mrs Hanson. "I want to keep going as long as I'm able to. Since 1976 I've never, ever not had children."

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The couple, who foster for Hereford Council, were recognised for services to children and families in the New Year Honours list.

Image copyright Annie Neesham
Image caption Shirley Hanson (right) fostered Shannon Riches, (left)

Mrs Hanson said: "I have fostered for so long it's a way of life for us.

"I feel I have been very fortunate, so this has come as a real surprise.

"I'm always here on the farm so the children feel secure and I'm here if I'm needed to turn cattle."

She said some of their foster placements now had children and grandchildren of their own and still visited.

Janet Rees, from Redditch, Worcestershire, was appointed OBE for services to children and families.

She is the co-founder of Foster Care Associates and non-executive director of Core Assets Group.

Image copyright Graham Bedingfield
Image caption Ian Northcott set up Socks and Chocs charity

A police officer for more than two decades has been recognised for his tireless efforts in supporting the homeless.

Ian Northcott, who served with West Midlands Police for 23 years, has been named as a recipient of the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year Honours List.

The 51 year-old from Bromsgrove set up the Socks and Chocs charity, which helps to distribute thousands of items across the UK.

It was launched five years ago and in 2015 alone there has been more than 12,000 pairs of socks, 5,500 bars of chocolates and thousands of sleeping bags, hats and gloves sent to the homeless and those in need.