A young man from Tonypandy who cut short a career as a hairdresser so he could fulfil a lifelong ambition to care for people is in the running for a major award.

Owen Olds, 25, had his first job in the hair styling business but soon realised his future lay in the caring profession.

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

It is this dedicated approach to his caring role that has landed Owen a place in the final of major national competition, the 2017 Wales Care Awards, where he will be a finalist in the Community Living Care Practitioner category.

This is the 15th anniversary of the awards and the glittering presentation ceremony will be held at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday November 17 and will be 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.”

Since being nominated for the Wales Care Awards Owen has been promoted from carer to senior carer and transferred to the SilverCrest group’s nearby new Ty Nant specialist dementia care centre where he is in charge of residents’ medication and staff training.

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.

Owen said: “Beforehand the lady had said to me she was so sad that her father wouldn’t be able to come to the party, so I thought there was no reason why he shouldn’t be able to go and made all the arrangements myself. You can imagine the look on her face when she saw him come in.

“This is one of the small things that I love to do for people to make them feel happy, so I was gobsmacked and very proud when I was nominated and ecstatic when I heard I’d been shortlisted in the Wales Care Awards.

“I’m looking forward to the presentation evening in Cardiff. It should be a great night and I just can’t wait to be there.”

Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.

He said: “The event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.

“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.

“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.

“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.

“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded.

“It is a pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists. Each and every one of them should be very proud of their achievement.”