A super fit service manager who played a pivotal role in creating a new home for adults with learning difficulties has scored a top care award.

Katie Owen, 26, who lives in Drefach Felindre near Llandysul, took the joint bronze prize at this year’s prestigious Wales Care Awards, held at City Hall in Cardiff.

The national awards, run by Care Forum Wales and sponsored overall by Onyx Healthcare, recognises the hard work and dedication of those in the care sector.

Katie was nominated for the Learning Disability & Mental Health Services Award, sponsored by All Care South Wales and Home Instead Senior Care, for her work at supported living facility, Caeronnen, in Llangrannog.

With her commitment to making Caeronnen a success now recognised by the Wales Care Awards, Katie said the improved quality of life the facility’s tenants had made it all worthwhile.

“I have a massive sense of achievement to see how our tenants have progressed. I want to make sure all our service users have the best possible life that they can have – that is our responsibility.”

Katie was just 11 months into her new job with care providers, Regard, when she was asked to set up a brand-new supported living facility.

Not one to turn down a challenge, the Lampeter-born care professional took on the mammoth task and two years on, Katie and her team have seen dramatic improvements in the lives of Caeronnen’s long-term tenants, who have a range of learning disabilities and mental health needs.

An avid gym goer and weight lifter, Katie even brought in her love of fitness in to help her charges, including judo sessions and for one resident, a boxing bag in the garage.  “Exercise is about discipline and keeping active and can also be a distraction, so it’s a great calmer for our service users.”

Katie was put forward for the award by her manager, Julie Davies, who said that she deserved to be recognised for the improvements she has made in the lives of the people she supports.

“She has worked tirelessly to ensure their lives have been greatly enhanced,” Julie added.

Not only has Katie been honoured by the Wales Care Awards, she also now manages a second eight-bed residential home, Garthowen, nearby.

“When I was asked if I wanted to take on the job of setting up Caeronnen, I felt very much up for the challenge although I was a little apprehensive at first. But the support I had was amazing and to look back now, and with the opportunity to also manage Garthowen, it is crazy to think just how much I have achieved in the last two years!”

Congratulating Katie on her award, Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “There are only winners here tonight, so it is only fitting that the finalists have received 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.”