A Llantrisant woman described as a “hero and role model” won the top award at the social care Oscars.

Helen Rees was honoured for her exceptional work at the Wales Care Awards held at Cardiff City Hall.

The annual event is organised by Care Forum Wales and was sponsored by Onyx Healthcare.

Helen not only won a bronze award in the category for outstanding service, sponsored by Hallmark Care Homes, but came away with the Spirit of Care award, for which all nominees were eligible.

The Spirit of Care award, jointly sponsored by College Fields Nursing Home and Care Inn Ltd., was presented by Huw Irranca-Davies, Minister for Children, Older People and Social Care.

It was a remarkable achievement as three years ago Helen, described by colleagues as a “hero and a role model”, received a silver award in the category for Residential and Child Care.

At the time she was registered manager Tŷ Coryton, a residential school in Cardiff for young people with autistic spectrum condition and challenging behaviour.

The school is run by Orbis Education and Care, which is responsible for care and education of children and adults with autism and learning disabilities. Helen joined the company in 2011 having trained as a mental health nurse and registered learning disability nurse, and two years ago became the company’s Director of Operations.

Despite being promoted to a more senior position Helen Rees has shown that she has not lost the “common touch”, a quality which has earned her the admiration of her colleagues.

She was nominated for the current award by Matt James, Orbis’ area manager for adult services, who said the nomination was supported by the entire group of managers.

“Helen is always the first person to roll up her sleeves in order to help staff to make the lives of our service users the best they can possibly be,” he said.

“She is supportive, nurturing and proactive in getting staff to feel motivated, enabled and enthusiastic to make the lives of our service users happy and full of enjoyment and opportunity.

“She is a hero and a role model to all in the organization,” he added.

Ian Woodington, registered manager at Ty Coryton, said that Helen had had a hugely positive impact on his own career and on his Colleagues.

“The support she has given me has been amazing, allowing me to progress to my current position. By sharing her vision, which she has instilled in us, we are able to help our service users have a valuable role in society,” he said.

Helen was accompanied at this year’s ceremony by colleagues and her daughter Megan, who was unable to attend three years ago.

With typical modesty, she said she saw the award not only as a personal  honour but a recognition of the work being done by Orbis.

“It was a bit surreal, and although I was aware of the Spirit of Care award you never think you are going to get it,” she said.

After winning one of the principal awards where does Helen go from here? “Orbis is a growing organization and it’s important that we maintain the standard of service,” she commented.

Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists have received 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 in the months and years to come.

“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.

“We take out hats off to them.”