An Anglesey man whose willingness to “go the extra mile” has earned him the admiration of colleagues has been rewarded for his efforts.

The dedication shown by Chris Balahura in the five years since he started work at the Glyn Menai Dementia Care Centre in Treborth has now earned him a prestigious award.

The 38-year-old father-of-two received a gold award in the category for Residential Care Practitioner in this year’s Wales Care Awards. The awards are organized by Care Forum Wales to recognize exceptional practice in the care sector and Chris’s category was sponsored by the Older People’s Commissioner.

He was presented with his award at a ceremony in Cardiff’s City Hall, which he described as “a brilliant event”.

His role as a care assistant meant a change of career as he trained as a mechanic and later worked as a domestic appliance engineer.

“But when I became an apprentice mechanic some of my friends became nurses and it is something I always fancied doing,” he said.

After moving to live in Benllech he decided to take the plunge and began work at Glyn Menai, which is part of the Fairways Care group.

“I only intended staying 12 or 18 months and then going on college to gain nursing qualifications but I am still here. I really enjoy it and the residents are like an extended family,” said Chris.

It was his work with one particular elderly resident called Ron which particularly impressed his colleagues and Fairways director Mark Bailey, who nominated him for the award.

When Ron, who had no family, arrived at Glyn Menai in 2009 Chris immediately developed a close relationship with him and assured him that he would not die alone.

“We all say we want our carers to go that extra mile – to let our residents feel loved – and I believe that is exactly what Chris did for Ron, because he loved Ron,” said Mark.

Chris said he thoroughly enjoyed the presentation evening and the opportunity to chat and compare notes with fellow professionals.

“It was a very emotional evening and a very humbling experience,” he said. “The amount of love I have received from my friends – my colleagues – has been amazing.”

He still plans to study for his nursing qualifications and to specialize in the mental health field.

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 and are seen as the Oscars of social care.
“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.”