A young Llanfairfechan woman hailed as a “beacon of light” in the social care sector has struck silver in major national awards.

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 saw 28-year-old Becky take silver in the Residential Care Practitioner category of the 2017 Wales Care Awards, sponsored by the Older People’s Commissioner.

This was the 15th anniversary of the awards, sponsored by Ontex Healthcare and Barchester Jobs, and the glittering presentation ceremony was held at City Hall in Cardiff 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 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 was warmly praised by managers for her “can do” attitude which sees her regularly working above and beyond expectations.

Merton Place administrator Brian Stapleton said 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.”

Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries was extremely high.

He added: “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.”