A kind-hearted Newport couple are in line for a prestigious award after a lifetime of voluntary work.
At an age when most people are looking forward to taking life a little easier and cutting down on their commitments Tim and Christine Masters are as active as ever.
They are among those shortlisted for one of this year’s Wales Care Awards, organised each year by Care Forum Wales to recognize exceptional performance in the care sector.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the awards, and the ceremony will be held in City Hall, Cardiff, on October 19th.
The couple, from Bettws, have been jointly nominated in the category for Excellence in Dementia, End of Life and Palliative Care, sponsored by Hallmark Care Homes.
They were nominated by Emma Jenkins, a Coordinator with the South East Wales Shared Lives Scheme with which Tim and Christine have been involved for the past five years.
As carers they support a number of individuals with physical and mental problems by providing respite care, and in particular they have supported two people with end-of-life care.
The families of the individuals, social workers and community nurse were all involved in the decision to nominate the couple who have enhanced so many people’s lives.
Shared Lives is just the latest organisation to benefit from their generosity of spirit as Christine, in particular, has been involved with numerous local and national charities.
In her school holidays she helped at a center for the mentally and physically impaired and while living in Monmouth ran the local Oxfam shop as well as supporting the Sue Ryder charity, RNLI and other charities.
Failing health forced her to give up her marketing and promotion work for Waitrose and that is when a friend suggested she became involved with Shared Lives.
“I wanted to do something for the community and with Tim on board, we work as a team,” she said.
Having moved to Bettws, they consulted their new neighbours before agreeing to take part and everyone was quite happy with the idea.
One of those they helped was a woman with dementia who lived with her son who was also a Shared Lives Carer and therefore needed an appropriate respite link.
“It took a special couple for the son to feel comfortable in entrusting his vulnerable mother with,” said Emma.
Tim, now 65, and Christine, 70, went to great lengths to build a rapport with the woman, attending courses to learn more about the condition and achieving the difficult balancing act of allowing her personal freedom while ensuring her safety.
When the woman became too ill for respite care they visited her at her son’s house to try to maintain continuity in her life and offer support to her son.
The woman died at home last year and the son was very grateful for what Tim and Christine had done.
“They enabled her to have respite with dignity and respect, and at the same time provided peace of mind to her son,” said Emma.
Christine said she was determined to continue as long as possible to fill the vital role.
“I feel I am a better person for doing it and being able to see the other side of things, and I am a far more rounded person because of it,” she said.
Nowadays the couple tend to provide only short-term holiday or emergency respite, though Tim is also involved in sessional work with Shared Lives, taking people for days out.
In her spare time Christine is a keen hill walker and often takes her dog, a Hungarian Puli. She is also a member of the local jigsaw circle, while Tim, who formerly ran his own graphic design business, is a trustee with the mediation group which settles local disputes.
They are looking forward to attend the awards ceremony and comparing notes with other nominees about their experiences.
“We were taken aback to learn we had been nominated and stunned to have got this far,” said Christine.
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.
He said: “This year’s ceremony is an even more special occasion because it marks the 15th anniversary of the awards and the 25th anniversary of Care Forum Wales, and the event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.
“The aim is to recognize 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 recognize the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognize 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,” he added.