A former barber is aiming to be a cut above at an awards ceremony.

Craig Jones, from Wrexham, who works at Pant Glas Uchaf care home near Ruthin, has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

He’s been nominated for the Peter Clarke Award for Promoting Excellence in Services, sponsored this year by Morgan LaRoche Solicitors, at the Wales Care Awards.

Sponsored by healthcare products company Ontex UK,  the glittering ceremony will take place at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 21.

The host for the evening will be the popular tenor, Wynne Evans, and for the first time  the event will be live streamed online.

Craig has worked at Pant Glas Uchaf, which accommodates about six youngsters, some with complex behavioural problems, for the past seven years.

He put his skills as a qualified barber to good use after the pandemic plunged the UK into lockdown.

Once permission was gained from the boys’ parents and social workers Craig began cutting the hair of the boys who reside at Pant Glas as part of his shift if they requested it, helping to raise their self-esteem.

Craig said he was delighted to be put forward for an award initially and excited by being named as a finalist.

“But it’s as much for the team at Pant Glas Uchaf than just me. The work they do with the young people is outstanding and it’s a shame we can’t all be nominated. This nomination means a lot to us as our work is being recognised,” he said.

Craig said the team at Pant Glas Uchaf which is part of the Caretech company, numbers around 25 and are shared among the six units on site which look after youngsters aged between 12 and 17.

He said the boys passionately care about their looks and being unable to get their haircut was having a profound effect on them.

“I am a qualified barber and I thought I could give them a cut in Pant Glas Uchaf. They agreed and I started giving them haircuts which they really appreciated,” he said.

Craig added the regular haircuts also gave him the opportunity to get to know the boys better and to have informal chats with them.

“People often open up to their barbers and hair stylists in a way they don’t with other people and I was able to get an insight into their feelings at a particular time, what they were worried about and so on. It’s always good to get things off your chest and I could just talk with them and try and help,” he said.

Claire Howard, Deputy Manager at Pant Glas Uchaf, who nominated Craig, said his haircuts proved to be just what the boys wanted.

“This proved highly beneficial to the young people as it has given them a sense of self-worth and identity that may have been lacking otherwise. It seems like a small thing, a haircut but feeling like you look smart and how you want to look has a big impact of mental health helping the boys feel positive about themselves.

“There is a very simple difference that Craig has made to the home that has had a big impact on the mental health and well-being of the young people over the past year, haircuts! During lockdown I think lack of access to a hairdressers or barbers has been a difficulty that most people have faced, with varying degrees of trauma.

“Aside from this Craig also is a fantastic member of the team who has raised everyone’s spirits on a regular basis during isolation, lockdown and the restrictions we have all had to abide during lockdown.

“This has been a very trying time for staff and Craig’s good humour has helped lift spirits, which should not be underestimated in a profession such as residential care, where the mental health of the staff needs to be strong to aid that of the young people we care for.”

Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the aim of the Wales Care Awards was to recognise the unstinting and remarkable dedication of unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.

He said: “The social care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job, it’s a vocation – these are people who go the extra mile for others.

“During the Covid crisis, this fantastic workforce rose magnificently to the challenge, putting their own lives on the line to do everything they possibly could to safeguard the people for whom they provide care.

“Unfortunately, it has taken a global pandemic for many other people to realise how important and how significant our social care workforce is.

“Their incredible contribution was summed up best in the powerful and emotive words of the song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, which was set to the famous tune

of Men of Harlech. The message that the diolch should last forever is one that we should never forget.

“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards people need and never recognise the value of people who need care in society.

“All the nominees deserve to be lauded and applauded and it’s a real pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists.

“I congratulate all the individuals who have shown outstanding dedication and professionalism. Every one of them should be proud of their achievement.

“They are Wales’s finest.”