An inspiring community worker who has been shortlisted for a national care accolade will be rounding off her honeymoon at a special awards ceremony this October.
Lowri Wynne Matulla, from Pwllhwli, will be marrying her childhood sweetheart Roy Blackmore on October 12, then just one week later, the newly-weds will be travelling down to Cardiff to take part in the 2019 Wales Care Awards.
The 59-year-old, who is manager of Gywnedd Council’s Shared Lives Scheme – which works to place adults with learning disabilities and mental health or sensory issues within a family setting in the community – said being nominated for the award was the perfect way to celebrate her wedding.
Lowri and retired builder Roy, 62, first met as teenagers 40 years ago, but went their separate ways before eventually reuniting seven years ago.
“We are getting married in St George’s Hall in Liverpool on the Saturday and will then have four days away in Towyn before travelling down to Cardiff. When I heard the news that I had been nominated I thought, wow, what a great way to finish our honeymoon!”
The Wales Care Awards are organised by Care Forum Wales to reward outstanding work in the care sector. Lowri has been nominated in the Award category for Outstanding Service, sponsored by the Silvercrest Group and will attend the glittering ceremony at the City Hall in Cardiff on October 18. The awards ceremony will be hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.
Covering Anglesey and Gwynedd, the Shared Lives Scheme currently works with over 40 service users aged 18 and above and their carers – known as enablers – to support then to live as independent and fulfilling lives as possible. Following a career in administration, Lowri joined the scheme in 2004 where the grandmother-of-six was given the opportunity to become an Adult Placement Officer, before being promoted to Shared Lives manager in 2017.
“I have done admin for most of my working life, which has been a great background for the work I now do. I never actually thought I would become a care practitioner but getting the chance to work on Shared Lives and now manage the scheme is one of the best things I have ever done,” Lowri said. “I love being able to make a difference and it’s satisfying to see so many of our service users happy and settled.”
Lowri was put forward for the Wales Care Awards by her manager Selwyn Lloyd Jones for her ‘tireless work’ to ensure that Shared Lives service users can live as fulfilling lives as possible.
“What is exemplary in Lowri’s work is that she has the service users’ wellbeing first and foremost,” he explained. “She also has warm working relationships with all of the enablers within the two counties and is admired by every one of these exceptional people.”
Lowri is currently at the forefront of a pioneering new Shared Lives project, which
works with community enablers to provide personalised support and respite for individuals with early on-set dementia and their families. With three-year funding secured, the scheme – known as Dalwch Darw or ‘Pop Over’ – is the first of its kind in Wales and if successful, Lowri hopes it will be rolled out around the country.
“Although it is still early days, we are already seeing really positive responses. For the individual, they get to have a personalised service and do the things they enjoy, while for the family, they are able to have a short break from their caring duties, knowing their loved one is safe. We are already seeing the scheme making a difference and my dream is for it to be rolled out across Wales,” Lowri added.
With the final touches being added to her forthcoming wedding on the 12 October, Lowri said she was now looking forward to celebrating with her new husband and fellow Shared Lives colleagues at the Wales Care Awards ceremony.
“I’ve been really lucky in my career and I get so much satisfaction from seeing Shared Lives grow and develop. It is so rewarding to support our service users to be independent and watch them blossom. This is down to the enablers and I am always inspired by what they give and achieve,” she added.
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.
He said: “The event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.
“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales. The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.
“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.
“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded. It is a pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists. Each and every one of them should be very proud of their achievement.”