A young Tonypandy man says he’s “gobsmacked” after walking away from a national care awards presentation ceremony with two major honours to his credit.

Owen Olds, 25, cut short a career as a hairdresser so he could fulfil a lifelong ambition to care for people.

He went on to join the staff of the SilverCrest Care’s Mill View nursing home in Ystrad, Pentre, where his compassion and commitment were soon recognised by senior managers and he was rewarded with rapid promotion.

It is his dedicated approach to caring that saw him shortlisted for the finals of the 2017 Wales Care Awards.

And at the glittering presentation evening in Cardiff’s City Hall Owen was first called to the stage to receive bronze in the Supported Living category, sponsored by Mayberry Pharmacy Ltd, CareGuard and Telbridge, and was back later to pick up one of the evening’s special awards, Spirit of Care.

The winner of Spirit of Care Award, sponsored by Barchester Health Care, is chosen by the judges from all the finalists and presented to an individual with that ‘special’ something – that extra ingredient that embodies the true qualities required to provide a person centred social care service.

The event was sponsored by Ontex Healthcare and Barchester Jobs, and the presentation ceremony was hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.

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.

Born and raised in Tonypandy where he still lives, Owen left the local comprehensive school in 2008 and spent two years gaining a hairdressing and barbering qualification at Coleg Morgannwg’s Rhondda campus in Llwynypia.

He said: “After leaving college I had jobs in a couple of salons in the area but I always knew what I really wanted to do was nursing, although at that stage I wasn’t sure how to get into it.

“Casualty and Holby City were my favourite programmes on TV. I wanted to be like the nurses I saw dashing about on there but doing something a bit less hectic where I could still make a difference to people’s lives. That’s when I decided to become a care professional.

“I was lucky enough to get a job at Mill View and I adored it right from the start because I really love making friends with people and caring for them.”

After a short spell helping to open SilverCrest’s nearby new Ty Nant specialist dementia care centre Owen is now back as a senior care assistant at Mill View.

In nominating him, a senior manager says Owen regularly goes above and beyond what is expected of him and describes him as “the perfect fit for the care home environment”.

Typical of his commitment is when he arranged for a Mill View resident, who is an amputee and immobile, to attend his daughter’s 50th birthday party. Owen made all the necessary arrangements, including transport. He escorted the man to the party and spent the entire night chatting to the family.

Of his night of double glory Owen said: “Although I’m quite outgoing I find getting up in front of a lot of people very difficult. However, I had a fantastic night at the awards ceremony.

“I was shocked enough to win the bronze but was left absolutely gobsmacked when I was called up to the stage again to get the second award.

“I was there with quite a few of my colleagues and they were all very proud for me and the residents at Mill View who’ve heard about the awards are also very pleased for me.

“I couldn’t be more proud, both for myself and everyone in my company.”

Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair 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 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.”