A former dancer who made a huge career change is to return to the stage – this time to pick up an award.
Helen Grimston from Ewloe is among those to be honoured at a ceremony in City Hall, Cardiff, on October 18 when the annual Wales Care Awards will be presented. MC for the evening will be tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV ad.
The awards are organized by Care Forum Wales to recognize outstanding work in the care sector and Helen, 40, has been shortlisted in the category for supported living or small group community living care practitioners, sponsored by Educ8. She is therefore guaranteed to win a gold, silver or bronze award.
On leaving school the mother-of-two, who is originally from Mynydd Isa, studied health and social care as her long-term aim was to work in that field.
However, the opportunity arose for her to pursue her love of dancing in which she had trained from the age of four, and so for six months was a professional cabaret dancer, working in places such as Menorca.
The birth of her daughter meant her having to give that up and so for the last 17 years she has been a support worker for the St Asaph-based organization Cartref Ni.
For much of that time she has supported three men to live in their own home in Buckley, and has made a huge different to their lives.
She was nominated for the award by her service manager Karl Blears who said she was very well respected by her colleagues and the organization as a whole.
“She puts values and respect at the top of her agenda, ensuring that the rights, voice and control of individuals is at the forefront of everything she does,” said Karl.
He cited one example of Helen’s determination to do her best for those in her care by arranging for one man to have a weekend break at Centre Parks in Sherwood Forest.
Other team members had strong reservations about the idea but Helen overcame all potential barriers, arranging the trip down to the finest detail to ensure things went smoothly, and it proved a huge success.
She is committed to her professional development, attending several training courses to broaden her knowledge and has completed a “Step Up To Management” university certificate with Social Care Wales.
“Helen has demonstrated a huge commitment to her own professional development and realizes how this can have a positive effect on the support she and her colleagues give,” said Karl.
Her nomination was supported by the parent of one man in her care who said she had “helped him blossom” and was considered more as a friend than a carer.
“We totally trust her judgement and believe she is a trusted advocate for him,” she added.
Helen, who will attend the ceremony with husband Mark, is delighted to have been nominated by her colleagues.
“It’s quite surreal really,” she said. “I don’t think I do anything special but I suppose I must do in someone’s eyes.
“It is just so rewarding so see them making progress and developing their skills.”
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.
He said: “The event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.
“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.
“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.
“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.
“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded.
“It is a pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists. Each and every one of them should be very proud of their achievement.”