A young Llanfairfechan woman hailed as a “beacon of light” for the social care sector has been shortlisted for a major award.

Becky Barnes went into the care profession at the age of just 17 and has risen rapidly through the ranks to take on the responsible role of senior care practitioner at Clwyd Alyn Housing Association’s Merton Place nursing home in Colwyn Bay.

One of her senior managers there described her as a “passionate and enthusiastic carer” who is an “inspiration” to all staff at the home.

It is this committed approach to her caring role that has landed 28-year-old Becky a place in the final of major national competition, the 2017 Wales Care Awards, where she will be a finalist in the Residential Care Practitioner category.

This is the 15th anniversary of the awards and the glittering presentation ceremony will be held at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday November 17 and will be hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.

The awards are in association with Care  Forum Wales, a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1993 to give independent care providers a single professional voice with which to speak on one of the most important issues of our time – how to provide better quality care for those who need it most.

Born and raised in Llanfairfechan where she still lives with her partner Geraint, who has just obtained a law degree, and their two daughters, 11-year-old Mia and Chloe, eight, Becky attended Ysgol Aberconwy and at 17 gave birth to Mia.

Juggling the needs of being a new mum with a career, her first job was providing home care 24/7 for a lady in Llandudno where she had for five years before joining the staff of Merton Place, which has 54 residents, some with dementia, in 2012.

After working initially as a care practitioner she won promotion to her present position as senior care practitioner two years ago, being responsible for managing the day-to-day allocation and supervision of the team of care practitioners.

She also mentors all new care staff and is helping the deputy manager to streamline the monthly medication re-ordering.

Becky also works alongside nursing staff, assisting them with everything from medication and dressings to local health board reviews.

In her nomination for the Wales Care Awards she is warmly praised by managers for her “can do” attitude which sees her regularly working above and beyond expectations.

Merton Place administrator Brian Stapleton says of her: “It’s people like Becky that the care sector relies on, need more of and is fortunate to have. As we strive to get more professional recognition for our carers, she is a beacon light that demonstrates we are making solid progress in that direction.”

Becky said: “I think it’s in my nature to be a caring person and I believe that having a child at such as early age helped make me more mature and caring of others.

“Knowing that you’re helping people, who can often be very ill, makes you feel better about yourself and the little bit extra you can do for a resident or their relatives is really nice.

“The lady I looked after in her home when I first came into care suffered from severe epilepsy and after having an attack would be left feeling frightened. I know that me just being there for her really helped with that.”

Becky added: “I didn’t even know I’d been nominated for the Wales Care Award and when I found out I’d actually been shortlisted I was so shocked I was lost for words – which I never am! But it was so nice.

“We have some excellent staff at Merton Place and I see this as recognition for them as well as myself.

“I’m looking forward to attending the presentation evening in Cardiff with my partner Geraint and I’ve started looking for just the right posh frock.”

Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.

He said: “The event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.

“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.

“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.

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

“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded.

“It is a pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists. Each and every one of them should be very proud of their achievement.”