A selfless couple who have supported vulnerable people for 40 years have struck gold at the social care Oscars.
Jeff and Lynne Gornicki from Wyllie, near Blackwood, were among the major award winners at a ceremony held at City Hall, Cardiff.
The Wales Care Awards are organized by Care Forum Wales to acknowledge exceptional work in the caring profession, and the glittering occasion was sponsored by Onyx Healthcare.
For 40 years the couple have provided support for vulnerable people, initially as foster carers and then within the South East Wales Shared Lives Scheme run by Caerphilly County Borough Council.
It was Shaun Nicholls, who is employed in the council scheme, who nominated them and they won the Peter Clarke Award for promoting excellence in services for children and young people, sponsored by Care Inn Ltd. It was presented to them by Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England.
“We were overwhelmed to receive the award and the whole evening was lovely,” said Lynne.
She and Jeff became foster parents when their own sons, Mark and Robert, were only 11 and seven years’ old respectively. Their first foster child “J”, who is autistic and has cerebral palsy, “J” is still living with them – at the age of 40.
It was to ensure stability and consistency for the young man that they initially became Carer’s within the Shared Lives Scheme.
The scheme supports adults with a variety of needs in maintaining long-term arrangements within a family setting.
“J had never known anyone else and we wanted him to stay with us,” said Lynne, who first gained experience while caring for her brother, who has learning difficulties.
Jeff and Lynne, also provide long-term care and support for two other adults within the family home.
Though Jeff is now 68 and Lynne two years younger they have no plans to retire because they love what they do.
“I have never got up in the morning and thought ‘I don’t want to do this’, “Lyn said.
Since news of their gold award spread among friends, neighbours and relatives they have been inundated with messages of congratulation, flowers and bottles of wine.
Such is the closeness of their relationship with those in their care that some people had not realized that they were not their own children.
Shaun described the couple as “the very embodiment of the type of carers that we hope to recruit and they consistently demonstrate why they are so highly thought of by the people who access their support”.
He described the couple as “selfless beyond belief, compassionate, caring, pro-active, non-judgmental and patient”, always striving to advocate for vulnerable people and to achieve the best possible outcomes.
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.”