A care worker who is always willing to go the extra mile has been rewarded with a bronze medal.

Mary Baber from Treharris was among the winners at this year’s Wales Care Awards ceremony held in City Hall, Cardiff.

The awards are organized by Care Forum Wales to recognize exceptional work in the care sector, and Mary picked up her award in the category for Residential Care Practitioner, sponsored by Christie and Co.

The compere for the evening, sponsored by Ontex UK, was popular tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV adverts.

Mary’s warmth and helpfulness ome proved the decisive factor when a young woman applied for a job at the Trafalgar Park Care Home.

Kadie Edwards, who had been hesitant about accepting the post, decided that she would enjoy working Mary – and her confidence was justified.

Kadie was among colleagues supporting Mary, who has been at Trafalgar Park since 1999, in calling for her loyalty and unstinting work to be recognized.

She was nominated by the home’s former manager Kane Thomas, but there was supporting testimony from Kadie and other colleagues.

Kane said he had done so because of her dedication, patient nature, compassion and “for being such an outstanding colleague who represents the core of the care home”.

Mary, he said, put the residents’ needs first and foremost and knew all their requirements. Several of the residents have dementia, but Mary knows how to calm and reassure them.

“The level of care she provides to residents comes from the heart and she ensures that residents never lose their sense of dignity or individuality in all of the general activities within the home,” said Kane.

In his nomination he also praised the way she dealt with residents’ relatives for whom she is often the first point of contact.

Despite being a technophobe Mary learned how to use Skype to enable relatives to chat to residents and often goes beyond the call of duty, such as helping to redecorate the residents’ lounge after some of them had said they would like it done.

Mary, 50, who was embarrassed but delighted to have been nominated, said: “I just love the work and will carry on as long as I can. I love the residents so much.

“It’s important to work closely with their relatives because they put their trust in us and if they go on holiday they know they can relax.”

In her spare time Mary enjoys swimming and taking long walks in the countryside.

“I can walk for miles, and I find it clears my head, which I think is important,” she said.

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.”