A pair of avid fundraisers were bursting with joy after fighting off stiff competition to be crowned the Echo’s local heroes.

Hundreds of readers voted in our contest, which saw 30 hopefuls go toe-to-toe in a bid to win the top prize of a digital certificate and a £100 shopping gift card.

However, 11-year-old sisters Isabelle Clark and Emily Gahagan were declared the winners after raising more than £2,000 by undergoing a 27-hour sleepout in Southend.

The youngsters, who also tackled a sponsored cycle last summer, were outside the Tesco store alongside their dad, Lee Clark, on Southchurch Road for more than a day as they bid to support Charlie Boys Angels, the Southend Foodbank, CSF and The Project.

Lee, of West Road, Shoebury, was overjoyed after hearing his daughters’ efforts had been rewarded by our readers.

He said: “I am already proud of what they do because they love fundraising, but being crowned the winners of this competition makes me even prouder.

“They enjoy raising awareness of the charities and being named the Echo’s local heroes is such a big achievement, particularly when you look at the calibre of those put forward for the award.

“When I told the girls they had won the competition, they were ecstatic and this news has made their year.

“I’m incredibly proud of Isabelle and Emily because I would never have got involved in fundraising at their age.

“They are such an inspiration to me and, judging by the votes, to others as well.

“Thank you to everyone who voted for my girls and congratulations to all the nominees because they were all winners in their own right.”

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Isabelle, of Temple Sutton Primary School, and Bournemouth Park Academy pupil Emily’s fundraising has not stopped there as they have already completed a sponsored silence since.

The duo are set to raise even more money this summer as well.

Lee added: “They got involved in a sponsored silence and stayed quiet all day to raise £800 for charity.

“Now they have turned their attentions towards raising money at a charity football match I get involved in.

“They always set up a hook-a-duck stall and they will be donating the proceeds to Havens Hospices.

“My girls are my inspiration and I am in awe of them everyday.

“Despite everything they have done, they don’t realise what they’re doing is amazing. It seems to come naturally to them.”