A prestigious award was just the icing on the cake for a cook from Neath when she scooped a gold award at the social care Oscars.

For Sarah Crimmins said the most satisfying aspect was knowing she had been nominated by her colleagues and the feedback she had from so many people to her success.

Residents of the Plas Bryn Rhosyn Home in Heol Illtyd are the happy main beneficiaries of the work of head cook Sarah.

It was Stuart Davies, the home’s registered manager, who nominated her for one of this year’s Wales Care Awards, organized by Care Forum Wales to recognize exceptional practice in the care sector. The event was sponsored by Onyx Healthcare.

Sarah, 41, came away with the top award in the catering category sponsored by Harlech Foodservice.

She trained at Neath Port Talbot College and has worked in the catering industry all her life. She worked in various settings, including pubs, before starting at the Hafod residential Home – Plas Bryn Rhosyn’s predecessor – 15 years ago.

The home has 59 residents, including some with dementia, and Sarah and her team of five has responsibility for ensuring that all their dietary needs are met.

“Catering to everyone’s tastes while maintaining special dietary requirements and preferences within a care home is a difficult task, but one that Sarah has grasped with both hands,” said Stuart.

But Sarah enjoys “going the extra mile” by also making meals as interesting and varied as possible.

In recent months she has devised a new four-week menu which includes tasty vegetarian dishes and regular vegan dishes. As a result the home, whose kitchen was given a 5-star hygiene rating by Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council,  has signed up with the charity “Vegetarian For Life” by demonstrating its commitment to providing tasty and nutritious meals.

Stuart said that residents had commented on the revised dishes and how good it is to try new foods.

“They often comment on how spoiled they are and how they look forward to the buffets she lays on for special events,” he added.

Those special events include monthly “theme days” such as a “50s day” with milkshakes, ice-cream and hot dogs on offer. Each time the staff enter into the spirit by dressing up appropriately.

“If my parents were in a home I would like them to have the best, and that is what I try to do. I have a real passion for what I do and like to give it 100%,” she commented.

A mother-of-two, she was stunned to learn that she had been even nominated for the award, especially as she was unaware that there was a category for those working on the catering side of the care industry.

When she is not at work Sarah, who lives in Seven Sisters, relaxes by taking a busman’s holiday, baking celebration cakes for weddings and other occasions.

She attended the awards ceremony with her partner Richard Denyer, and described the occasion as “surreal”.

“I’m not one who pays much attention to awards but it means so much to know that one’s colleagues appreciate your work,” she said.

Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists have receivee 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.”