A dedicated nurse who sacrificed her own family life to work around the clock at a nursing home during the pandemic has been shortlisted for a national award.

Helen Davies-Parsons won praise from her staff and colleagues after tackling the increased workload like “a runaway train”, putting in long hours to ensure that residents at the Foxhunters Care Community in Abergavenny remained comfortable, despite Covid.

As a result, she is on track to be honoured at the Wales Care Awards – dubbed the social care Oscars – in the Outstanding Service category, which is sponsored by the Caron Group with Ontex UK as the event’s main sponsor.

All category finalists have been invited to attend a glittering event at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 21.

The host for the evening will be the popular tenor and BBC Radio Wales presenter, Wynne Evans, who also famously plays the opera singer Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV adverts and the ceremony will be live-streamed on the night.

Having trained as a nurse in the 1980s, Helen worked in various senior roles in the independent care sector, before forming Dormy Care Communities in 2015. The aim was to create a next generation of care homes with the emphasis on highly trained staff and a positive environment.

But like all care home operators during the pandemic, Helen faced new challenges with the arrival of a deadly virus.

“It was a difficult time for everyone, but we got through it as a team. We worked together and got on with it,” she said.

“In lockdown it was almost like staff and residents became one big family, We made it bearable by organising our own entertainment, concerts and karaoke nights, sharing pizza and cake to lift our spirits.”

Paying tribute to Helen, a colleague and fellow nurse manager said “I proudly work for Dormy Care Communities, a small care company with a huge heart. And that heart is Helen Davies-Parsons.

“When Covid 19 landed on our shores Helen was ahead of the game ensuring we had pandemic plans and risk assessments in place and personally bought as much PPE as she could to ensure we had the tools to fight this infection.

“She made sure her staff were supported and that good communication was maintained throughout.”

Helen operates four care homes in England and Wales, but despite being CEO of the organisation, Helen retains an active Pin and continues to work day and night nursing shifts.

“I have always loved being a nurse,” says Helen.

“I wear a few hats these days, but my nurse’s hat is nailed on. It never comes off.”

A Dormy Care management team member said “Helen is still very much a nurse and is seen on the floor in her uniform working alongside her teams for many hours, often not seeing her own family for weeks including over festive periods and family birthdays.

“She is such a passionate and hardworking lady, she’s like as a runaway train.”

Mario Kreft MBE, chair of Care Forum Wales, said the aim of the Wales Care Awards was to recognise the unstinting and remarkable dedication of unsung heroes and heroines across Wales. All the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze award, so nobody goes away empty-handed

He said: “The social care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job, it’s a vocation –these are people who go the extra mile for others.

“During the covid crisis, this fantastic workforce rose magnificently to the challenge, putting their own lives on the line to do everything they possibly could to safeguard the people for whom they provide care.

“Unfortunately, it has taken a global pandemic for many other people to realise how important and how significant our social care workforce is.

“Their incredible contribution was summed up best in the powerful and emotive words of the song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, which was set to the famous tune of Men of Harlech. The message that the diolch should last for ever is one that we should never forget.

“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring, you will never provide the standards people need and never recognise the value of people who need care in society.

“All the nominees deserve to be lauded and applauded and it’s a real pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists.

“I congratulate all the individuals who have shown outstanding dedication and professionalism. Every one of them should be proud of their achievement. They are Wales’s finest.”