An “exceptional” manager at a charity which helps people with learning disabilities live active, independent and fulfilling lives has been hailed for putting the needs of others before herself.

Ruth Wellum’s passion and selflessness saw her quickly rise through the ranks at Cartrefi Ni Ltd in St Asaph after a previous career in childminding.

Now the 55-year-old from Towyn has been shortlisted for a prestigious award for her efforts.

Ruth, who joined the not-for-profit organisation in 2014 after moving to the region from Sheffield “showed outstanding commitment” to her job and her own development, with her initial promotion two-and-a-half years later proving how valued she had become.

Her line managers and colleagues say she stands out as being “exceptional” for the way she treats people with dignity and respect and helps give them a voice.

She even changed her own working conditions to include evenings, weekends, and sleep-ins to ensure a person-centred approach was paramount within their care.

It is Ruth’s passion for her caring role that has landed her a place in the final of the major national competition, the 2022 Wales Care Awards, dubbed the Oscars of social care.

The glittering presentation ceremony will be held at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday October 21, hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.

The event, sponsored by Ontex Healthcare, will be streamed live on the night.

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.

Ruth, who has two sons and two grandchildren, is shortlisted for the Leading Practice in Learning Disability and Mental Health Services Award, with the category being sponsored by Amaya Care.

Those who nominated her cited the “amazing commitment” Ruth showed following an outbreak of Covid 19 in one house which involved three tenants and two staff testing positive for the virus.

Her dedication saw her go “above and beyond her role,” working outside of her normal office hours, supporting family members and sacrificing her own personal time.

Ruth has also been instrumental with both her enthusiasm and desire to make things happen with Cartref Ni’s social events both prior and during the pandemic, including Christmas and Easter activities.

Previously an Assistant Manager, her line manager at that time, Gwyn Jones, said: “Ruth supported five houses in her role and offered a consistent, caring and progressive approach appreciated by individuals and staff.

“As a manager, it is reassuring to have the detailed and level-headed assistance which Ruth provides.”

“Her role is varied, and she adapts to the challenges this can present. Ruth will advocate for individuals and adeptly supports their views giving them the voice she strongly believes must be heard and respected.”

Gwyn said families respect Ruth’s involvement and the thoughtfulness she provides for their loved ones. 

The nomination was supported by Tracy Peers Head of Operations who line manages Ruth in her new role as Service Manager said “Ruth’s varied skills are such an asset for me and the charity as a whole. It is fantastic that Ruth continues to ensure progressive support is provided.”

Support worker, Helen Grimston added: “Ruth shows true dedication to the job, often working extended hours to ensure that any complications or issues are resolved in the best possible way.”

“Ruth is an inspiration to all team members and is extremely approachable, no matter whether it is a personal or work issue. 

“Ruth freely passes on her wealth of knowledge and is truly amazing.

“There is no doubt that Ruth puts others before herself and is the epitome of what working within social care is all about.”

About being shortlisted, Ruth said: “I was really shocked when I found out I’d been nominated for an award but I really appreciate it, it’s lovely that people feel that way about me.

“I started working here after a career both as a childminder and supporting childminders with a local authority so I’ve always been in a caring role.

“This is totally different but I love it, it’s brilliant. I just come in and do my job but to be recognised for it feels amazing.”

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.

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 forever 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.”