A recently-widowed care home boss who soldiered on during the pandemic, keeping her staff and residents protected while boosting morale with treats and rewards, has received recognition for her outstanding service.

Ceri Roberts, director of Cariad Care Homes which has homes in Porthmadog and Criccieth in Gwynedd, was praised by staff for her dogged efforts to make sure they had adequate PPE and for always considering their wellbeing, along with that of the residents.

She has been shortlisted  a prestigious Wales Care Award in the Outstanding Service category, the Caron Group with Ontex Healthcare being the event’s main sponsor.

All category finalists have been invited to attend a glittering Wales Care Awards event at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 21.

The host for the evening will be 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.

Ceri’s husband, Huw, who was also financial Director of the company, died very suddenly in August 2020, just at the country was coming out of the first lockdown.

Along with anticipating the impact covid would have on the business, Ceri had to find someone to fill her husbands’ role in the home.

Home Manager Jill Jones, who nominated Ceri along with another member of staff, said her boss managed the homes at a demanding time while still grieving for her husband.

“She was set adrift without her anchor, but through all this heartache and sorrow, she rose and once again devoted every hour to her staff, the residents and their families,” said Jill.

“She ploughed all her energy into making sure her homes were well informed and staff were trained to deal with the situation.

“She would send cakes, chocolates and take away meals to the homes with messages of thanks. These little things count.

“She has been selfless throughout these unprecedented times and she continues to be our rock.”

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. All the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze award, so nobody goes away empty-handed

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.”

For Ceri, the past two years have been particularly challenging. First came the pandemic, the loss of her husband, then over the past year Ceri has also had to deal with two major surgeries.

“It has been a very, very difficult time and hard work. At the beginning we didn’t know what we were facing, but I did anticipate there would be problems getting hold PPE and I was right,” Ceri said.

“We managed to source Aprons from a company making carrier bags, who had adapted their machinery to make PPE instead.

“We also purchased virus killing snoods for all staff to wear, prior to mask being made mandatory.”

Ceri added that it would have been impossible for her to continue without the support of her loyal and devoted staff.

“You can’t run a good home without a good team behind you,” she said.

“They were putting their life and their families wellbeing on the line when they came into work.

“We recently organised a big family fun day for everyone involved during the pandemic. We wanted to recognise their effort and thank the team for the sacrifices they made. We had a great day with over 140 people attending”

The Wales Care Awards event is seen as an opportunity to recognise many of the unsung heroes in the industry.

“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,” said Mr Kreft.

“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 for ever 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.”