A musical theatre performer who worked as a TV extra to help fund his studies and now trains health carers has won a national award – at the age of just 23.

Corey Edwards, who appeared in the BBC’s popular drama series Ordinary Lies as an extra during his studies at Swansea University, scooped a coveted silver award in the Exceptional Newcomer category, sponsored by Coleg Cambria, at the Wales Care Awards 2019.

The talented singer and theatre actor, from Swansea, works as a Regional Healthcare Trainer on behalf of residential and supported living specialists Accomplish Group, based in Swansea.

He has brought his love and passion for the stage to his work as choir master of the service’s Accomplishments Choir, a 30-strong group of staff and service users who have twice been invited to sing at the National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards in Cardiff.

So infectious is his passion and energy for his work, Accomplish staff nominated him for a Wales Care Award, and praised his “commendable thirst” for knowledge and self-improvement.

Corey collected his award at a glittering ceremony at Cardiff City Hall which was hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV adverts.

Now in their 16th year, the national awards are organised by care industry champions Care Forum Wales and acknowledge the exceptional work and dedication of those in the care sector.

Corey said: “I was absolutely blown away with the nomination. I didn’t expect it at all and I’m absolutely ecstatic.

“I’m still waiting for it all to sink in. I still believe I’m totally privileged to be where I am at my age. Not many people can say they have been nominated for a national award at the age of 23. I considered myself really lucky and it’s a true honour.”

Corey, who was born and grew up in Swansea, completed a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Science in Abnormal and Clinical Psychology at Swansea University.

While studying, he led a successful 10-week research project at a local sixth form to measure the impact of pet therapy in reducing stress and anxiety among A Level students with the help of his friend’s pet collie, Poppy.

Corey, who continues to appear in Shakespeare productions as well as musical theatre shows in his spare time, managed to secure a job as a support worker with Accomplish while still completing his degree and began supporting people with acquired brain injuries, autism and other mental health needs.

“For me this is a vocation,” he said.

“When I was young I never thought I’d work in care but now I’ve realised how much I am in love with my job.

“At 16 I wanted to be a forensic scientist or a singer. It’s very strange that I’ve ended up following the footsteps of my mum, Lynda who worked with children with special needs.

“My team are an absolute credit. I absolutely love teaching and get to access my degrees on a daily basis. I can always draw on my psychology knowledge and research in different therapies.”

A highlight for Corey has been his role as choir master of the Accomplishments Choir, which was invited to open this year’s National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards with a rendition of “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman.

“Musical therapy is still a not fully explored area and is something that should be pushed not only to stimulate the pleasure centres and emotional cortices of the brain and releasing feel good hormones but also for the way it promotes social interaction too,” said Corey, who has been asked to star as PT Barnum in a stage version of The Greatest Showman later this year.

“Some of the people we support only come out of the house once a week for choir practise and it’s one of the highlights of their week. It’s so important for them to meet each other and have the opportunity to socialise.”

Corey, who was nominated by Gemma Howells, marketing manager for Accomplish, already feels like a winner and credits his mum and grandparents for his phenomenal success.

“They’re been really proud and so supportive and passionate about anything I’m passionate about. They’ve always been the driving force behind me.”

Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries was extremely high.

He added: “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.

“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.”