Six devoted carers win national LloydsPharmacy awards

Six carers across the UK have won national awards run by LloydsPharmacy in partnership with Carers UK in recognition of their huge contribution and dedication.

The winners, aged from 16 to 70, were nominated for the LloydsPharmacy National Carers Awards 2015 by members of their families and selected from hundreds of entries.

The youngest winner is Ely King, who has helped her mum Donna fight breast cancer and cope with osteoarthritis and other conditions throughout her 16 years growing up.

LloydsPharmacy launched the awards last year, teaming up with Carers UK, to pay tribute to the 6.5 million individuals across the UK who care, unpaid, for a disabled, older, or seriously-ill loved one.

The international pharmacy chain and national charity joined forces again this year and the winners received their awards at a ceremony in London on September 10.

Cormac Tobin, managing director of LloydsPharmacy, said: “The awards highlight the joys and challenges of caring and honour carers’ huge contributions to communities across England, Scotland and Wales.

“Here at LloydsPharmacy we know first-hand about the amazing work carers do, with no thought of any reward, other than making life a little easier, less painful and more comfortable for the people who mean so much to them.

“We know because they come through the doors of our pharmacies in all corners of the UK. They may be looking after a relative, friend or neighbour, selflessly giving anything from round-the-clock care to running errands picking up medicine.”

Alongside Ely, from Hartlepool, other winners who stood out among the thousands of nominations include Geoff Kingsford, 43, from Gillingham, who looks after his wife, Jane, who has mild cerebral palsy, and her three children, who have special needs.

Then there is Ben Hawley, 70, from Havering, who not only cares for his wife Janet, who lives with vascular dementia, but also improves the lives of other people living with dementia and helps their carers. Mr Hawley was nominated by the Singing for the Brain music group for people with dementia and their carers.

As well as the carers, there was another award, LloydsPharmacy Caring Colleague of the Year, and the worthy winner was Northampton pharmacist Amir Ismail, who was nominated by an appreciative patient with Parkinson’s Disease.

Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “Caring will touch each and every one of us at some point in our lives, whether we begin caring for a loved one or whether we need care ourselves.

“The realities of caring for a loved one can be challenging. We hear every day from carers who are facing emotional, physical and financial difficulties as a result of their caring role; but we also hear about how rewarding caring for a family member or friend can be.

“These awards allow us to recognise and celebrate the unseen support that carers up and down the country provide. Every nomination showcased the huge reserves of strength, commitment and, above all, love that carers possess. Congratulations to everyone who was nominated and to this year’s award winners.”

All six winners visited the Houses of Commons and met with the Rt. Hon Alistair Burt MP Minister of State for Community and Social Care ahead of the awards gala. They also received a trophy and £1,000 in high street vouchers plus a one-night stay at a luxury hotel in London and train travel.

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges five judges, including Baroness Jill Pitkeathley OBE, Vice President of Carers UK and Rachel Carr from the Department Of Health, and were selected from over 300 nominees.

The winners

Ely King
Hartlepool student Ely King, 16, has cared for her mum Donna through most of her childhood and teenage years – it’s second nature to Ely. She has helped her mum fight breast cancer and cope with other conditions, including osteoarthritis.

Ely was nominated by her mum. Sacrificing much of her teenage life, while friends were out socialising, Ely was at home with Donna, cooking and cleaning and supporting her mum, while keeping on top of her studies. Ely is now at college and hopes to go on to university. Ely took her mum to the awards gala.

Ben Hawley
Ben Hawley, 70, from Havering, has cared for his wife Janet, 68, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia five years ago. They have been married for 48 years and went side-by-side at the awards ceremony.

Mr Hawley also helps other people with dementia and their carers. He was nominated by the Singing for the Brain music group. He organises outings to concerts, seaside trips and meals out for the group.

Geoff Kingsford
Geoff Kingsford, from Gillingham, has dedicated his life to his wife Jane, who has mild celebral palsy, and her three children, who have special needs. He gave up his security job to look after them when they met 15 years ago.

Geoff, who was nominated by Jane, was ecstatic to win and praised the awards for raising awareness of the army of unpaid carers and the commitment they make on a daily basis.

Ellen Davis
Ellen Davis, 53, has cared for her husband of 35 years, Chris, 54, since an accident at work left him in a wheelchair 16 years ago. The accident caused reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a clinical syndrome causing extreme pain.

Their daughter Anna Davis, 34, nominated Ellen and went with her to the gala. Ellen also cared for her 83-year-old mother when she developed Alzheimer’s.

Sara O’Reilly
Sara O’Reilly, 58, from Andover, has been carining for her husband, Eddie, 72, for 15 years since he developed several illnesses, including vascular dementia. She simply says that she does it because she loves him and copes by holding on to the fact that what Eddie sometimes says and does is not him – it’s the illness.

Sara was nominated by her daughter, Sara Martin, 34, who went with her to the ceremony.

Amir Ismail – LloydsPharmacy Caring Colleague of the Year
Pharamacist Amir Ismail was nominated by a patient with Parkinson’s Disease for his continuous and valued support. The patient says he goes that extra mile to help, gives “caring and sensible” advice and is also a great support to the family.

Amir manages Weston Favell LloydsPharmacy in Northampton and lives in Bedfordshire. He says: “Being able to help people on a daily basis is why I come to work. I’m probably more empathetic to patients and carers because I have first-hand experience of being a carer myself.”