A social worker who strives to “make the world a better place” has scooped a top award after being nominated by the mother of a disabled child.

Richard Bellingham was described as having “incredible strength, optimism and relentless energy” as well as a “unique gift” for helping children with disabilities.

The 47-year-old from Llanon has worked with Ceredigion County Council’s children’s disability team as a key worker and senior practitioner caring for children aged one to 18.

The service works with disabled children and young people to promote their wellbeing, planning alongside parents and carers to support development of independence and resilience, as well as offering support and signposting based on each child’s individual needs.

Richard has been hailed as providing “extraordinary care and support” to one family who nominated him in the 2022 Wales Care Awards sponsored by Ontex Healthcare.

The glittering presentation ceremony, hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads took place in Cardiff last week.

The awards are in association with Care Forum Wales, a not-for-profit organisation 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.

Richard scooped the silver gong in the The Peter Clarke Award for Promoting Excellence in Services for Children and Young People, with the category being sponsored by Morgan LaRoche Solicitors.

Liane Beckmann, who nominated him after years of offering support to her daughter said: “Richard is one of the greatest listeners with good ideas and advice.

“He is very competent in his job having had so many children on his case work helping children with disabilities with his incredible strength of professional knowledge and relentless energy…He really believes the world can be better.”

She said Richard “worked his socks off” during lockdown while juggling “huge priorities”in the “strangest of times” and that Ceredigion is “extremely fortunate” to have him.

“I think that’s what drives him in his life. And I also believe that’s why he is here.

“Richard never gives up,” she added.

Richard, who started his social care career 21 years ago working with adults before doing a degree in social work, said: “It was a really nice surprise to find out I’d been nominated for an award by one of the families I’ve worked with over the years.

“It’s lovely to be held in such high regard.

“I love my job and find it very rewarding.”

Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the ceremony was all the more poignant because of the Covid pandemic and what front line staff had endured.

He said: “I would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to all the wonderful people who work in social care after the rose magnificently and courageously to meet the unprecedented challenges they have faced over the past couple of years.

“We have always recognised their true value and hopefully now the rest of Wales is also aware of how lucky we are as a nation to  have them providing care and safeguarding our most vulnerable people.

“Our finalists are the best of the best and are here representing the whole social care workforce who all deserve a big pat on the back.

“There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will 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 and in the months and years to come.

“In the words of the powerful song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, let the Diolch last forever.

”We take our hats off to them.”