Winning a gold award at the 2016 Wales Care Awards was an all time career high for social care trainer Louise Davies Rae.
The glittering evening was made all the more memorable when she got to have her photograph taken with internationally known Welsh tenor, Wynne Evans, aka the opera singer Gio Compario from the television commercials for the fun-filled Gocompare.com insurance group advertising campaign.
Louise, who lives with her family in Bangor on Dee, near Wrexham, is a big fan of his and enthused: “He was fantastic and really entertaining as our compere for the evening. It made the night even more enjoyable. I shall never forget it.”
Wynne is known for his twirly moustache and GoCompare operatic catchline on the spoof TV adverts but he is an accomplished singer who most recently took on the role of Piangi in the 25 year anniversary performance of The Phantom of the Opera, which was broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall, London, to cinemas worldwide.
Louise said: “I love him and my family does too, so for him to be at the presentation night was a great thrill. We even got extra copies of the photographs to give to my mum.”
Her work colleagues cheered out loud when Louise’s name was read out as a Gold award winner and she was presented with the prestigious winner’s trophy.
“They were almost as excited as I was. I took my husband to the ceremony and also four of my friends and colleagues from work came along. It was lovely to have them there with me,” said Louise, who gained the top honour for her outstanding commitment to training and workforce development, an award category sponsored by the Pendine Park Academy, Wrexham.
The presentation evening and dinner was held at Cardiff City Hall with health care professionals from across the nation attending. The red carpet event has become a highlight of the social care calendar and is now known as the health care ‘Oscars’ for the way in which it shines a light on unsung heroes and heroines who have devoted years to helping others.
Louise said she could hardly believe it when she was called to the podium. She had known she was shortlisted to receive an award but did not know until the big night itself which accolade she would receive.
She said: “To be awarded Gold was a huge surprise and a wonderful feeling. I felt so proud and not just for myself but for the entire team I work with. I could never achieve what I do without them, that’s why it was so nice to have some of my work colleagues at the ceremony with me.”
The annual Wales Care Awards are run by Care Forum Wales and recognise achievements right across the social care sector ranging from nursing, clinical and medical achievements to catering, management and training.
Chair of Care Forum Wales, Mario Kreft, who has worked in social care for 25 years, said Louise was just one of the many deserving winners the judging panel delighted in doffing their hats to.
He said the occasion was one of celebration, not just of the winning nominations but of all the people, like Louise, who give so much time and energy to the care sector every day of the year. The event is supported by more than 450 key care sector organisations across Wales.
Louise heads up Wrexham County Borough Council’s social care workforce development team. She is responsible for commissioning staff training provision for independent, third sector and local authority social care staff, including managing the Welsh Government grant allocation designated to funding training.
She also chairs the Joint Social Care Workforce Development Partnership meeting which gleans information from the sector on what training and development is needed, and delivers its recommendations back to the key sources responsible for delivering training under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act.
She was nominated for her award by Wrexham Council Trainer Assessor, Tracey Evans who, in her submission nominating Louise, described her as an excellent role model for others.
Tracey said: “Louise is passionate about ensuring staff have the right training to deliver the best possible support to all individuals. She ensures wellbeing and quality of life are uppermost in staff approaches.
“Louise also listens to the team, and empowers us to use our initiative, which creates a proactive workforce.”
Care Forum Wales Chair Mario Kreft added that the standard of entries for this year’s Wales Care Awards was extremely high.
He said: “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 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.”
Louise has eight year old twins, Amy and Daniel, plus three step-children, Charlie, 18, Bailey, 16, and Finlay, nine. Her husband, Greg, who attended the awards with her, lectures in health and social care at Coleg Cambria, Wrexham.