A dedicated nurse who sacrificed her own family life to work around the clock at a nursing home during the pandemic has won a social care “Oscar”.

Helen Davies-Parsons won praise from her staff and colleagues after tackling the increased workload like “a runaway train” putting in long hours to ensure that residents at the Foxhunters Care Community in Abergavenny remained comfortable, despite Covid.

Her efforts earned her a nomination for a prestigious Wales Care Award and a delighted Helen picked up a silver at the awards ceremony at City Hall in Cardiff.

Having trained as a nurse in the 1980s, Helen worked in various senior roles in the independent care sector, before forming Dormy Care Communities in 2015. The aim was to create a next generation of care homes with the emphasis on highly trained staff and a positive environment.

But like all care home operators during the pandemic, Helen faced new and unprecedented challenges with the arrival of the deadly virus.

“It was a difficult time for everyone, but we got through it as a team. We worked together and got on with it,” she said.

“In lockdown it was almost like staff and residents became one big family, we made it bearable by organising our own entertainment, concerts and karaoke nights, sharing pizza and cake to lift our spirits.”

Paying tribute to Helen, a colleague and fellow nurse manager said “I proudly work for Dormy Care Communities, a small care company with a huge heart. And that heart is Helen Davies-Parsons.

“When Covid 19 landed on our shores Helen was ahead of the game ensuring we had pandemic plans and risk assessments in place and personally bought as much PPE as she could to ensure we had the tools to fight this infection.

“She made sure her staff were supported and that good communication was maintained throughout.”

Helen operates four care homes in England and Wales, but despite being CEO of the organisation, Helen retains an active Pin and continues to work day and night nursing shifts.

“I have always loved being a nurse,” says Helen.

“I wear a few hats these days, but my nurse’s hat is nailed on. It never comes off.”

A Dormy Care management team member said “Helen is still very much a nurse and is seen on the floor in her uniform working alongside her teams for many hours, often not seeing her own family for weeks including over festive periods and family birthdays.

“She is such a passionate and hardworking lady, she’s like as a runaway train.”

A delighted Helen received a Silver Award in the Outstanding Service category, which was sponsored by the Caron Group.

The host for the evening was the popular tenor and BBC Radio Wales presenter, Wynne Evans, who also famously plays the opera singer Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV adverts. First Minister Mark Drakeford and singer Sir Bryn Terfel also attended.

Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the ceremony was all the more poignant because of the Covid pandemic and what front line staff had endured.

He said: “I would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to all the wonderful people who work in social care after the rose magnificently and courageously to meet the unprecedented challenges they have faced over the past couple of years.

“We have always recognised their true value and hopefully now the rest of Wales is also aware of how lucky we are as a nation to  have them providing care and safeguarding our most vulnerable people.

“Our finalists are the best of the best and are here representing the whole social care workforce who all deserve a big pat on the back.

“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.

“In the words of the powerful song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, let the Diolch last forever.

“We take our hats off to them.”