Opera star Sir Bryn Terfel and top tenor Wynne Evans treated the stars of social care to an impromptu duet during an awards ceremony.
Appropriately, they gave a rousing rendition of the classic song, If I Can Help Somebody, at the prestigious Wales Care Awards.
It starts with Sir Bryn, who hails from Pant Glas in Gwynedd, singing the famous song a cappella before the two vocal powerhouses bring the house down with the stunning duet.
The event – dubbed the Oscars of social care – made a comeback this year after a Covid-enforced break since 2019.
Radio and TV presenter Wynne, aka Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads, was the host of the glittering ceremony, sponsored by Ontex Healthcare, at City Hall in Cardiff.
His big mate, Sir Bryn, was there to present his foundation’s awards for promoting the arts in the sector.
But he also sprang a huge surprise on Wynne who has been the event’s regular MC for many years.
Sir Bryn joined Julie Morgan MS, the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, in presenting him with a special award for boosting the nation’s mental health by keeping spirits up with his popular Radio Wales show.
Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales and founder of the Wales Care Awards, said:
“We felt it was in our gift to really recognise somebody who keeps us motivated every day if we’re tuning in and has made the Wales Care Awards his own.”
A dumbfounded Wynne responded: “I am utterly, utterly shocked. Every day we go on air and my mission is to make Wales smile by lunchtime. We’ve created this very tight community and it’s spreading all the time. Thank you very much for this, it’s really fun.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford was also among the VIP guests and he thanked the army of front line social care workers for their incredible efforts during the pandemic.
He said: “I think of all of you, every single one of you and all your colleagues and all the organisations which you belong to, who every day and every night were there to make sure that some of the most vulnerable people in our community, people who may not have seen any other human being that day but there was always somebody where they could have that conversation, that they would know who was there to care, who was prepared to carry on even in the most challenging of circumstances, to do the jobs that you do and which make us the country that we are in Wales.”
Later Julie Morgan also presented the Dignity in Care award, sponsored by the Welsh Government.
The gold award was won jointly by senior care support worker Denis Mulcahy, from Ucan Care Ltd, Hillside in Pontypridd; care practitioner Claire O’Kelly, from Springbank Nursing Home in College Road, Barry; ex-Benedictine monk Jeremy Nixey, the founder of My Care My Home, which has a base in Pontypool and Natasha Williams, the activities and fundraising manager at Meddyg Care which has homes in Porthmadog and Criccieth in Gwynedd.
There were also special awards for the deputy minister and Albert Heaney CBE, the Welsh Government’s Chief Social Care Officer for Wales, for their support to the social care sector during the pandemic. .
Mario Kreft added: “Without any doubt, all of the countries have looked to Wales for leadership in the pandemic in the care sector.
“The support that we’ve had has been second to none in all of those countries and I think it’s great credit to the leadership in Wales.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Mike Slator, of Osborne Care Holdings, for his years of service to Care Forum Wales and the sector generally.
The Sir Bryn Terfel Foundation Wales Care Award went to Kate Woolveridge, from Cardiff, a professional singer, vocal animateur and musical director with over 30 years’ experience, the co-founder and Artistic Director of Forget-me-not Chorus.
She was quick to emphasise the award was for all of the team at Forget-me-Not chorus, a charity which organises joy-filled singing sessions for people with all forms of dementia, as well as the families, friends and the professional staff looking after them.
Kate said: “I’m absolutely thrilled and delighted for the team and that all the work we do has been recognised in this way.
“The power of singing is inspirational and life changing for people with dementia. We’ve got community chorus’, hospital chorus’ and care home chorus’ and our latest Calon chorus, which is for those bereaved by dementia covers the whole dementia journey and we’re most proud of that.”
The blue riband Spirit of Care Award went to a caring couple who scooped a golden double on the night.
Husband and wife team Cynthia and Morton Webber, of Ebbw Vale, have opened up their hearts and their homes to vulnerable adults for more than three decades and continued to devote themselves to caring for others even after enduring a life-changing car accident.
After the ceremony, Cynthia said it was one of the most emotional and enjoyable nights of her life.
She said: “We were on cloud nine all weekend. We knew we had been shortlisted in one of the award categories but then when we were presented with two golds, it was just unbelievable.”
According to Mario Kreft, the ceremony was all the more poignant because of the Covid pandemic and what front line staff had endured.
He said: “I would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to all the wonderful people who work in social care after they rose magnificently and courageously to meet the unprecedented challenges they have faced over the past couple of years.
“We have always recognised their true value and hopefully now the rest of Wales is also aware of how lucky we are as a nation to have them providing care and safeguarding our most vulnerable people.
“Our finalists are the best of the best and are here representing the whole social care workforce who all deserve a big pat on the back.
“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.
“In the words of the powerful song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, let the Diolch last forever.
“We take our hats off to them.”