A MAN who gave up his globe-trotting career and found a job he truly loves - as a residential support worker - has been honoured with a national award.

Simon Hughes, from Overton-on-Dee, near Wrexham, works for Corwen-based Branas Isaf which provides specialist care for young people with complex needs.

He was a finalist at the prestigious Wales Care Awards and ended up taking home the bronze award in the Exceptional Newcomer category, sponsored by Coleg Cambria.

The awards are organised by Care Forum Wales and this year’s ceremony, which was hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads, took place at City Hall in Cardiff.

Simon, who started his role as a residential support worker in November 2017 and primarily works at the company’s Ashfield House base in Oswestry, was nominated for an award by operations manager Leanne Bennett.

The 46-year-old had left his role as Coleg Cambria’s head of international and external funding, which saw him travel the globe during his 15 years in the post, to turn his childhood hobby collecting first edition books into a business.

While building up his new venture, Curious Pelican, Simon wanted to earn some extra cash and joined the team at Branas Isaf on the recommendation of his father who works in a similar role in Newtown.

The married, father-of-one said: “I genuinely didn’t expect to love the job as much as I do. I’ve still got my business but I spend most of my life here.

“I should really be doing more with the books but I get so much out of working here. You’re part of making a difference and you see the changes you make - it’s hugely rewarding.

“It was a shock when I found out I was nominated. I didn’t expect it. It’s such a fantastic team here and that makes all the difference.”

He added: “We work with young people aged 16 to 18 preparing them to move on and go into the wider world. Our job is to give them the skills to do that.

“Basic things like opening up bank accounts and making medical appointments. We’re a full time care home and it can be very challenging.

“The important thing here is to ensure that they keep moving forward. We deliver therapeutic care so they attend a therapy session every week.

“Our model is to support them in a way that identifies the positive elements of their life. We have next step plans so they progress in a way that doesn’t rush them along the system.

“The role is about giving them support and guidance.”

On nominating Simon, operations manager Leanne Bennett said: “Simon is the most enthusiastic staff member I have come across in a while, he is dedicated to the role and shows great passion on a daily basis to learn new skills and to support the young people in our care.

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.”