St Kentigern Hospice family support worker honoured at care awards

Ann Atkin

A family support officer has been honoured with two gold awards for her work in helping children and young people to deal with bereavement.

Mrs Ann Atkin, 61, who works at St Kentigern Hospice, in St Asaph, won the accolades at the Wales Care Awards in what she describes as “a wonderful evening” at the City Hall, Cardiff.

Ann Atkin

She said: “To be singled out is a bit embarrassing but it is good to be acknowledged. Any number of my colleagues are equally deserving.”

The event, arranged by Care Forum Wales, was hosted by top tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, also famous from the Go Compare TV adverts.

Mrs Atkin won the Excellence in Palliative and End of Life Care Award, which was sponsored by SilverCrest Care Group, and announced by their chief executive Bikram Choudhary. It was presented by Alistair Davey, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Director of Enabling People, Social Services and Integration Directorate.

The icing on the cake surprise for Mrs Atkin was also winning gold for Dignity in Care, sponsored by the Welsh Government and presented by Huw Irranca-Davies, the Minister for Children and Social Care.

“I was absolutely stunned to win the first award then also to receive the second for Dignity in Care,” said Mrs Atkin.

“I am delighted for the hospice to be recognised as a centre of excellence but so far as I am concerned the awards are for the whole team.”

She has worked at the hospice since 2005 and says she is “blessed to have the perfect job” which gives her so much satisfaction. Living at Meliden, Prestatyn, she has two grown-up children and a granddaughter.

Her previous work was in teaching, working at a local high school with children who were under-achieving.

She handles a variety of training, visiting universities and schools, helping those who work with children and young people about the impact of bereavement. Mrs Atkin also does regular sessions training foster carers.

St Kentigern offers specialist palliative care for adults in Conwy, Denbighshire and Flintshire and it was the manager, Joyce Bellingham, who nominated her for an award.

She said Mrs Atkin had striven to ensure that children and young adults got the support they needed, both before and after bereavement. She had set up an open access Children’s Support Service up to the age of 18 for North Wales.

For six years Mrs Atkin has represented Wales on the Children’s Bereavement Network Advisory Board in London.

In 2015 she wrote a book called “Everything is Changing” to support teenagers coping with grief which is being used by bereavement services and schools nationwide.

Mrs Bellingham said it was right that Mrs Atkin should receive recognition for the fantastic job she did across North Wales, working closely with the NHS, GPs, schools and local authorities. She enhanced the work of the hospice to ensure that an entire family was cared for before and after bereavement.

The main sponsors of the annual awards event were Ontex Healthcare and Barchester Jobs.

Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries was extremely high.

He added: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.

“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights and in the months and years to come.

“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.

”We take our hats off to them.”