A FORMER dancer who made a huge career change is to return to the stage – this time to pick up an award.

Helen Grimston from Ewloe is among those to be honoured at a ceremony in City Hall, Cardiff, on October 18 when the annual Wales Care Awards will be presented. MC for the evening will be tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV ad.

The awards are organised by Care Forum Wales to recognize outstanding work in the care sector and Helen, 40, has been shortlisted in the category for supported living or small group community living care practitioners, sponsored by Educ8. She is therefore guaranteed to win a gold, silver or bronze award.

On leaving school the mother-of-two, who is originally from Mynydd Isa, studied health and social care as her long-term aim was to work in that field.

However, the opportunity arose for her to pursue her love of dancing in which she had trained from the age of four, and so for six months was a professional cabaret dancer, working in places such as Menorca.

The birth of her daughter meant her having to give that up and so for the last 17 years she has been a support worker for the St Asaph-based Charity called Cartref Ni.

For much of that time she has supported three men to live in their own home in Buckley, and has made a huge difference to their lives.

She was nominated for the award by a colleague who said “over the last year she has been doing extensive training that I feel the teams she works in have benefited from the knowledge she has gained. She works in a cheerful, calm, person centred manner and very motivated. I have worked alongside her and it has been inspirational to see what she has achieved”.

The nomination was supported by her service manager Karl Blears who said Helen is very well respected by her colleagues and the organisation as a whole.

“She puts values and respect at the top of her agenda, ensuring that the rights, voice and control of individuals is at the forefront of everything she does,” said Karl.

He cited one example of Helen’s determination to do her best for those she supports by arranging for one man to have a weekend break at Hoseasons Lodge near Sherwood Forest.

Despite reservations about the idea, Helen overcame all potential barriers, arranging the trip down to the finest detail to ensure things went smoothly, and it proved a huge success.

“Helen has demonstrated a huge commitment to her own professional development and realises how this can have a positive effect on the support she and her colleagues give,” said Karl.

Her nomination was supported by the parent of one gentlemen she supports who said she had “helped him blossom” and during family get togethers her support was “so natural it’s as though their son is not being supported at all by a ‘carer’ but a friend. We totally trust her judgement and believe she is a trusted advocate for him,” she added.

Helen, who will attend the ceremony with husband Mark, is delighted to have been nominated by her colleagues.

“I am absolutely overwhelmed that I have been nominated for this award. I feel in my role as a support worker supporting vulnerable adults to live in their own home and to access their community comes naturally to me.”