A care worker who has long held the admiration and respect of her colleagues has now literally hit the gold standard.

Rita Martin from Caldicot was among the main winners of this year’s Wales Care Awards, which are organised each year by Care Forum Wales to acknowledge exceptional work in the care sector.

The glittering ceremony, hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, was held at Cardiff City Hall and Rita, 62, won the gold award in the category for Community Living Care Practitioners sponsored by Educ8.

A support worker with Q-Care Limited, she was nominated by branch manager Kate Weston.

Rita, who has three children and five grandchildren, works in the Chepstow and Caldicot area, where she has nine regular “clients” and several others she visits occasionally.

According to Kate she provides exceptional care, showing empathy and patience with each and every one and often going out of her way to care and support them.

“As part of her role she ensures that all personal care is carried out to a very high standard, prompting medication, shopping and making domestic calls,” she said.

Rita has maintained her standards during what has been a difficult time for her, as her husband Gerard has suffered from cancer.

“Even when this was going on Rita still attended work, making a difference to people’s lives, and this selfless act is one of the reasons why we think Rita should be nominated for the award,” said Kate.

Q-Care co-ordinator Scott Delap, who described Rita as “a credit to the care industry and a wonderful person to know”, said that over the years they had received numerous compliments about her work.

“In an industry that is notorious for its high turnover of staff 20 years is an outstanding achievement and only serves as a testament to her dedication and commitment,” he said.

In support of her nomination one service user told how Rita had given her confidence through her professional, friendly manner, patience and sense of humour.

“Words can never fully explain what a vast difference she has made to my life,” she said.

“I wish I could clone Rita so that other people could experience her consistent, first-class professional and genuine care. To me Rita symbolises the word Carer,” she added.

Word quickly got around of her award and she was inundated with messages and congratulations from colleagues and clients.

“My clients seem as thrilled as I am,” she said.

“It was a fantastic occasion and I’m just amazed to receive an award for doing a job I love,” she added.

Rita, who enjoys reading and spending time with her family in her spare time, has no plans to retire because she enjoys her work so much.

“There is so much job satisfaction in it,” she commented.

Mario Kreft, chairman 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 and 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.”