Forget the X Factor – the remarkable qualities of the Fab Four of social care have created a bit of history.
For the first time ever, the prestigious Dignity in Care Award was shared between a quartet of contenders at the Wales Care Awards, organised by Care Forum Wales.
The judges decided that Marian Ryles, Juli Andrew, Inti Zirga and Fay Louise Gallagher all deserved the Gold award.
The accolade was sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government and the awards were presented by the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Gwenda Thomas AM.
Speaking at the awards ceremony at Cardiff City Hall, Head Judge Jan Wood said: “The standards this year were particularly high and it was absolutely impossible to separate this very special quartet in the Dignity in Care category. They all deserved gold.”
For her part Marian Ryles has now emulated Dame Kelly Holmes by completing a golden “double” after several thrilling experiences.
She completed a parachute jump, abseiled down a cliff and had a go at canoeing but she admitted that her latest achievement left her speechless.
The 56-year-old grandmother won gold in the category for Supported Living Care Practitioner, which was sponsored by Pendine Park Teaching Care Centre and ACT Training. The awards were presented at a ceremony in Cardiff City Hall.
To her amazement she was then named as one of four joint winners of the Dignity in Care Award.
For the past 19 years Marian has worked for the St Asaph-based care organisation Cartref Ni, and for much of that time has been a support worker for people with learning difficulties living in their own home in the Prestatyn.
Marian said she was shocked and embarrassed to be nominated for doing something which she enjoyed so much.
Undaunted, she has taken part in several exciting activities including a parachute jump and abseil down a cliff in Loggerheads to raise money for St Kentigern Hospice.
“To win one gold was amazing, but I couldn’t believe it when they gave me the Dignity in Care Award as well,” she said.
Television presenter Jason Mohammed could plainly see the shock on the face of Julia Andrew, from Aberystwyth, when she also claimed a double success.
She confessed that she was absolutely stunned when her name was announced at the ceremony at which the TV presenter was MC.
For she received not only a silver award in this year’s Wales Care Awards organised by Care Forum Wales but was one of four joint winners of the Dignity in Care award.
Julia, a former firefighter who for the past four years has been Care Manager for Crossroads Mid and West Wales, had been nominated in the category for Leadership and Management in Supported Living Care, sponsored by Christie and Co.
She commented: “Without a great team Crossroads would not be Crossroads. I enjoy working with the team to get them motivated.”
A Swedish woman, Inti Zirga, joined the roll of honour and dedicated her awards to her boss.
She won a gold award in the category for Residential Care Practitioner, sponsored by Barchester Healthcare and was then stunned to be called up onto the stage a second to learn that she was one of four joint winners of the Dignity in Care Award.
Inti, 32, is a senior carer and deputy manager at the Newton Grange Care Home in Newton, Swansea, where her manager, Roberta Rowe, described her as “one in a million”.
She was “over the moon” to have received the awards, and added: “I am dedicating them to Bobby (Roberta) because I couldn’t have done it without her. I came here as a very raw 21-year-old she taught me everything.”
First for Fay Louise Gallagher came a silver for Leading Practice in Learning Disability Services, which was sponsored by Mental Health Care before finding that she, too, had won a gold award for Dignity in Care,
Fay Louise is a support worker for Care Management Group of Pontllanfraith, Blackwood, and was nominated by Rachel Hawkins, residential services manager.
She believes that clients, whatever their problems, should be able to follow their interests and passions, just like anyone else.
She said: “After getting the silver, to receive a gold award came as a shock. I’m really pleased and it was a lovely evening.
“I’ve had many messages of congratulations, including from the company head in London, and I’m hoping that these awards will lead to greater things in my career.”
The Deputy Minister said Care Forum Wales continued to play an important role in advocating the importance of Dignity in Care.
She also congratulated the organisation on the work they were doing to train “dignity ambassadors.”
Mrs Thomas added: “I know how important initiatives such as this that embed dignity in care for all staff are in taking forward this work.
“To demonstrate this commitment in practical terms and to provide support to this work, I have set aside £150,000 to support a number of developments across Wales.
“About 20 small projects have benefited from receiving a small amount of funding from this pot.
“All of these have as their fundamental aim an innovative and person-centred approach to looking at ways that they can take forward the dignity in care agenda.”