The UK’s first gay dads to have surrogate children have announced plans to open a surrogacy centre.

Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow made history in 1999 when they travelled to the US to conceive twins Saffron and Aspen, now 11, through a surrogate mother.

The couple now have three more children – Orlando, seven, and another set of twins, Jasper and Dallas, who are ten months old.

Following the news that Elton John and his civil partner David Furnish had a baby boy by surrogate on Christmas day, the Drewitt-Barlows have announced that they plan to start a service to help more gay male couples become parents.

Barrie, 41, said the British Surrogacy Agency would open in Maldon next month and would also have offices in San Francisco in the US.

According to the Chelmsford Weekly News, he said: “The centre will focus on all things surrogacy-related and will be the first centre of its kind in the UK.

“Its aim is to bring together intended parents with egg donors and surrogates along with sperm donors, and offer legal advice from qualified legal professionals.

“I will be responsible for the assessment of intended parents and the assessments of potential egg donors and surrogates, and for helping with all legal documentation to allow each couple to bring home their baby to the UK.”

The millionaire couple have substantially raised the profile of gay parenting in the last decade, although their lavish lifestyle has been criticised.

However, Barrie said: “Like any first, we have taken most of the criticism and the flak, which will make it easier for anyone else taking this pathway to parenthood.

“There are many gay parents now in the UK thanks to the measures we took over a decade ago.

“The awareness of gay parenting is 100 times higher now thanks to our press coverage and TV appearances.”

He added that John and Furnish, who named their baby boy Zachary, would be “amazing parents”.