A change of career for a Flintshire man has brought recognition with a prestigious award in his new field.
Former high-flying businessman and award-winning sports coach Gary Bassett put his talents – and Lego – to good use during lockdown.
When a group of young people in his care faced possible frustration at seeing their activities severely restricted Gary Bassett knew exactly what to do.
His skill in communicating with the lads and keeping them occupied led to his being shortlisted for one of this year’s Wales Care Awards.
The awards are organized by Care Forum Wales to recognize outstanding work in the care sector. Gary, from Mold, received a silver award in the category for Residential Support Worker, sponsored by Christie and Co.
The ceremony took place in City Hall, Cardiff, on October 21, when the host was the popular tenor and radio presented Wynne Evans, well-known as Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV adverts. The evening was sponsored by Ontex UK.
Gary, 49, is a team leader at Pant Glas Uchaf care home near Ruthin which accommodates about six youngsters, some with complex behavioural problems.
The home is part of the Caretech company, and it is deputy manager Claire Howard who has nominated Gary for one of this year’s Wales Care Awards.
Gary has worked at Pant Glas for about five years but has a wealth of experience in business and in dealing with young people.
For 10 years he was human resources director for Lego, responsible for central and southern Europe. But he gave that up to launch his own sports coaching company A-Star Sports Ltd., a franchise which grew to cover much of the country.
He has always been interested in sports and in 2014 was named as Coach of the Year for Cheshire West and Chester.
He decided on yet another change of direction and immediately took to his new role at Pant Glas, forever finding new ways of keeping the youths occupied after listening to their wishes.
“There is a huge amount of trust in Gary from management to the staff team and the young people,” said Claire.
“The effort that Gary goes to means that the boys get a fantastic mix of choosing their own activities and trying new things, developing their abilities and widening their experience.”
Claire and her colleagues were particularly impressed by the work Gary did with one of the home’s more challenging teenagers who, as a result of the support and encouragement he received, left Pant Glas having had a job and college placement.
When the pandemic curtailed many activities Gary managed to keep the boys as active as possible, bring in his own extensive collection of Lego to help keep them motivated.
“Without Gary the lockdown would have had a much more negative impact on the health and well-being of the young people,” said Claire.
Gary said his experience in organizing activities for children during school holidays had proved very useful at Pant Glas and he thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.
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.”