A woman who started her long career in caring for the elderly by making a quick visit to the home where he daughter worked as a tea girl and ended up staying for over 30 years has struck gold in major national awards.

Back in 1985 June Lyons was invited to take a quick look around Ty Draw Lodge in Penylan, Cardiff where her young daughter Rachel was working as a part-time helper.

June was asked by the manager if she fancied a job there too, had a successful interview and started as a care assistant. She then went on to be a reliable, caring and diligent Registered Manager who has dedicated her life to the home.

She fell into love with the place and its residents and eventually rose to become the manager, retiring earlier this year after three decades in charge.

It is her lifetime of dedication and commitment to her role that saw 70-year-old June, who lives in Rumney, take gold in prestigious national competition 2018 Wales Care Awards.

This was the 15th anniversary of the awards and the glittering presentation ceremony was held at City Hall in Cardiff.

The awards, whose headline sponsor was Onyx Healthcare, are in association with Care Forum Wales, a not-for-profit organisation which is celebrating its own 25th anniversary this year after being set up in 1993 to give independent care providers a single professional voice with which to speak on one of the most important issues of our time – how to provide better quality care for those who need it most.

June took her gold award in the Outstanding Service Award sponsored by Hallmark Care Homes.

Originally from Cardiff, June started work in a children’s nursery but when she had her family switched to the role of home care assistant with Cardiff social services.

She recalled: “When she was young my daughter Rachel was working at Ty Draw Lodge making tea for the residents. I went along to pick her up one day and had a look around. I was asked to have an interview for a job, ended up getting it and never looked back.

“I began as a care assistant working at weekends which fitted in with my family life.

“I then took various training courses and eventually became the home manager. I retired last June after over 30 years, which I understand made me the longest serving care home manager in Cardiff and perhaps even Wales. But I had a fantastic team around me who helped me very much.”

June, who will have been married to her husband Philip for 50 years next year and has three sons, one daughter, seven grandsons and three granddaughters, added: “The things I loved most about my job as manager at Ty Draw Lodge were being able to give people a choice about how they were going to live the rest of their lives and making a difference to those lives.

“During the many years I was manager we must have received thousands and letters and cards from relatives of residents thanking us for how we had looked after them and it was nice to be recognised for doing a good job.

She said of her golden evening at the Wales Care Awards: “I knew I had been shortlisted for the award but was shocked to hear them announce that I had actually won it. I’m absolutely thrilled to bits and overjoyed by it.

“When I went up on stage the crowd was cheering and in the days after people were contacting me on social media to congratulate me and say how thrilled they were for me.

“It was lovely to be there on the night and I met some lovely people. There were quite a few tears as their stories were read out. It was also fantastic to be amongst so many people who share my passion for delivering good care.”

Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists have 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 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 our hats off to them.”