A trio of award-winning care home managers are celebrating six decades of service with a care organisation – and say the covid crisis has been the biggest challenge of their careers.

Ann Chapman, Tracey Smith and Cindy Clutton are each marking 20 years’ service with the Pendine Park in Wrexham.

They were presented with gifts after  reaching the magnificent milestone  and they all spoke of their love of working in social care.

But they admitted that managing care homes and keeping residents safe during the unprecedented health crisis caused by the coronavirus crisis had been the biggest challenge of their careers.

Ann Chapman, 64, is the manager of Pendine’s Bodlondeb care home which specialises in dementia and mental health care.

She has 40 years’ experience in the care sector and says she is privileged to manage Bodlondeb.

Ann said: “I took up the reins at Bodlondeb 11 years ago when it was opened by the then First Minister Carwyn Jones, although I’d been with  Pendine Park for nine years prior to that.

“I’m so proud of what we have achieved at Bodlondeb and it’s been an absolute privilege to be involved. It’s not just about me, I have a staff of close to 150 people, part and full-time including nurses, care practitioners and domestics.

“It’s a fantastic team and I’m so, so, proud of them all. I think of it as a big jig-saw. We fit together but if just one piece is missing the picture isn’t complete.

“Very few of my staff leave, they know I believe in them but they understand the organisation does too and is willing to invest in them and help them develop and progress.”

Tracey Smith, 57, a trained nurse, joined Pendine Park in June 2000 as manager of Highfield House after being the deputy manager of another Wrexham care home.

She now manages around 150 members of staff, including her two daughters who both work as care practitioners at the home which provides care for up to 112 residents with complex nursing and mental health needs.

She said: “I’m incredibly proud of the whole team. Everyone works so hard and the level of carte we provide is gold standard.

“We have the support of a tremendous management team and a world-class in training school that ensures every member of staff is properly equipped with the necessary skills to do the job they are asked to do.

“We can only ever be as good as the team providing the care and I’ve fortunate to have an amazing team.”

Hillbury House and Gwern Alyn care home manager, Cindy Clutton, 53, first worked at what was then Nazareth House Care Home as a 15 year-year-old weekend carer while still at school.

She said: “Nazareth House was run by a convent of nuns and eventually became Hillbury House when it was taken over by Pendine Park. I’ve no doubt that’s where my love of working in care all started.

“After leaving school I started work with the Local Authority in Wrexham as a care assistant before becoming a relief manager.

“Then I joined Pendine Park 20 years ago as a senior carer at Gwern Alyn. The then manager left and I became operations manager and moved to Hillbury House. Now I manage both sites.

“It’s hugely rewarding, I enjoy the fact we are one big family, residents, staff and relatives. I manage a team of 70 at Hillbury House and 90 at Gwern Alyn.

“It’s an amazing team and everyone plays their part. I’m particularly proud of how everyone has managed the Covid-19 pandemic. It hasn’t been easy.

“Keeping the virus out has been so difficult but I think relatives have really understood the need for caution and realise that we can’t allow visits for a very good reason.”

Pendine Park director, Gill Hughes is very proud of all three managers.

She said: “They work incredibly hard and knows their roles and what is expected of them. All three are compassionate, approachable and loyal. Their staff know where they stand and know they will always be supported.

“I’m delighted to be able to congratulate each of them for their wonderful 20 years each of dedication to Pendine Park Care Organisation and, more importantly, their residents.”

It was a sentiment endorsed by Mario Kreft MBE, who founded Pendine Park with his wife, Gill.

Mario said: “The kindness and compassion shown by all three of our long-serving managers shines through in everything they do. They are so dedicated to the care of their residents and so supportive of their staff.

“It’s an absolute pleasure for Gill and I to work with such a dedicated and incredibly professional trio of registered managers.

“All three of them have shown their true mettle in the way they have risen to the immense challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, showing fantastic leadership to shield our homes and save lives. They are our coronavirus warriors.”

Gill added: “Each are very different personalities but they each bring absolute professionalism and dedication to the roles and each is an inspiring role model for their staff.

“One quality they all have in common is great integrity, not just in the way they manage the homes but also in making a big contribution to the wider community.

“I’m delighted and thrilled to be able to thank them for their hard work and service and I hope all three will remain with Pendine Park for many years to come.”