Time to vote for your Local Care Heroes

Winners at the Norfolk Care Awards 2020

The Norfolk Care Awards recognise the fantastic work of the local social care sector. Pictured is the 2020 awards ceremony - Credit: Paul Macro

The submission period for the Norfolk Care Awards 2021 has come to an end, but you’ve still got a chance to take part by voting for the winner of the Local Care Heroes category. 

From the children of residents who have been overwhelmed by the support and care given to their loved ones, to the husband who has seen his wife go above and beyond for those she cares for, the Local Care Heroes category at the Norfolk Care Awards has given the community a platform to say “thank you” to our county’s amazing care workers. 

This new category was broken down into four locations to recognise care heroes across the county, and all submissions were reviewed by Norfolk Care Awards directors Claire Gilbert and Tracy Wharvell, alongside a panel of judges, with two shortlisted in each area for the public vote - find out more about the finalists below.

“We are always so overwhelmed with the quality of submissions for the Norfolk Care Awards and this year has been no different,” said Claire. “The judges all said how wonderful it was to read all the submissions, and there certainly was some healthy debate about who would be shortlisted.” 

The Local Care Heroes category provides an opportunity for communities to show their appreciation of frontline social care teams or workers, and the judges were faced with a tough task to shortlist them down to just two in each area. 

“It was extremely heart-warming to read all of the submissions and it really made me reflect on all of the unsung heroes, throughout the country, who have put the care of others above themselves,” said Joe Wells, director of healthcare at Foodcare. “We all owe them a huge amount of gratitude.” 

This was echoed by Nicola Heywood, solicitor at Birketts: “A huge amount of effort was made to be there for residents at a time when their own family members were not able to see them and to come up with innovative ways of keeping spirits up throughout lockdown while also navigating Covid regulations and keeping residents safe. 

Most Read

“Each individual involved in every submission for the Local Care Heroes award should be extremely proud of what they achieved and it was a pleasure to play a small part in this years’ event.” 

Jonathan Webster from UEA added: “It is always an amazing opportunity and privilege to hear and read about such great work that teams and individuals are leading aimed at improving care experiences and outcomes even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

The virtual Norfolk Care Awards celebration will take place on Thursday, September 16, hosted from Dunston Hall by ex Norwich City footballer Darren Eadie. 

The deadline to cast your vote for the Local Care Heroes is September 3. Find out more about the shortlisted social care teams or workers below and cast your vote at www.norfolkcareawards.co.uk 

Gavin Dinsdale, activities coordinator at Glendon House

Gavin Dinsdale, activities coordinator at Glendon House, always has a laugh and joke with the residents - Credit: Glendon House


Gavin Dinsdale, activities coordinator at Glendon House, Overstrand 

Gavin was nominated by Catherine Kelsall, whose mother is a resident at Glendon House. In the nomination she explains how Gavin has been instrumental in helping her mum settle in, and that he always has a laugh and a joke with everyone. 

“Gavin got her interested in painting,” said Catherine. “She can only use her left hand but he fired up an interest in her that she never knew she had and he encouraged her so that now she paints nearly every day.” 

Gavin said: “I believe that I am the privileged one to be working alongside amazing people who are like my family, and I will always go above and beyond to ensure that everybody within the home has a wonderful time because life does not stop when you enter a care home.  

“I looked after my late wife who was living with dementia and that’s why every day, I strive to create those special moments and meaningful interactions, like I did when I cared for my wife.”

Kim Jackson with a resident at Kevlin House

Kim Jackson is an innovative thinker and is always coming up with new ideas to enhance the quality of life for residents at Kevlin House - Credit: Kevlin House

Kim Jackson, lead senior support worker at Kevlin House, North Walsham 

Kim was nominated by the team at Kevlin House in recognition of her tireless work over the last 18 months.

“Kim has made sacrifices way over and above what is expected of her role and of anyone to be honest, during this very difficult and frightening time,” said Mandy Croshaw, managing director of Kevlin House.

The nomination highlights how Kim constantly provides outstanding and exceptional levels of care, commitment, empathy and understanding of people's needs, feelings and emotions. She is an innovative thinker and is always coming up with new ideas and suggestions for improvements to further enhance the quality of life for residents.   

Kim said: “I am surprised and overwhelmed to have been shortlisted for this award. I do what I do every day because I love my Kevlin House family and my job. This really is the icing on the cake!” 


A picture of Gina Galloway, head housekeeper at Ford Place

Gina Galloway and her team create a homely environment providing support and companionship to residents at Ford Place - Credit: Ford Place

Gina Galloway, head housekeeper and infection control champion at Ford Place, Thetford 

The team at Ford Place describe Gina as a truly caring individual who exudes passion for the home and the quality of service she delivers.  

She has established a team that are not just cleaners, they create a homely environment providing support and companionship to residents. Whether this is a comforting chat on a bad day, sharing the excitement of a good day, even holding the hand of someone in the last hours of their life, she has built a housekeeping team that are essential to the service.   

Gina played a vital role in supporting the home throughout the pandemic. From implementing an enhanced infection control regime, to opening the hairdressing salon for residents in her own time, her efforts have been invaluable.  

Gina said: “The pandemic has been tough for everyone, but especially the people we are looking after, so I want to do everything I can to help keep spirits high and make people happy. 
“If there’s something I can do to make someone smile and brighten their day, then I know I have done a great job.” 

Karen Claydon from Robert Kett Court dancing with a resident

Karen Claydon organised a series of activities for residents at Robert Kett Court during the pandemic - Credit: Robert Kett Court

Karen Claydon, dementia lead at Robert Kett Court, Wymondham 

“The past year has been challenging, and with no family or friends visiting it was a very isolating time, so Karen organised a series of activities for residents, individually and collectively, while adhering to all restrictions,” said Chris Claydon, who nominated his wife, Karen. 

“Recently, she arranged a London Marathon event for the tenants to walk or wheel 26 miles between them, raising money for in-house activities. Last summer, she filled paddling pools with sand and water and created a socially-distant beach day, including music, activities, candy floss and fish and chips.  

“Individually, she has spent many hours with each tenant, reminiscing using a system called Music Mirrors, and arranging video chats with family members. She co-ordinated green-fingered tenants to take part in the recent Wymondham in Bloom event, and made a tenant’s wish come true by arranging for him to spend a day fishing.” 

Karen said: "It truly is an honour to be shortlisted for this award, and my colleagues and our great tenants make my work an absolute pleasure.” 

Staff from Laurel Lodge arranged a special celebration for Derek and Phyllis’ 66th wedding anniversary

Staff from Laurel Lodge arranged a special celebration for Derek and Phyllis’ 66th wedding anniversary - Credit: Laurel Lodge


Laurel Lodge Care Home, Norwich 

Throughout the pandemic, the staff at Laurel Lodge have come up with innovative ideas to ensure a varied and enriching schedule of events for residents, taken on new jobs such as musical entertainers and hairdressers, and been adaptable within their roles to ensure the highest quality care for their residents.   

They reunited a couple in time for their 66th anniversary with a special celebration just for them. Staff came in on their days off to provide entertainment for residents Phyllis and Derek as they enjoyed a steak dinner with all the trimmings, surrounded by pink hearts, balloon arches and banners.  

The home launched memory books featuring photographs and quotes about residents who passed away throughout 2020-2021, to show their loved ones how much they meant to staff and fellow residents. 

“From unique experiences personalised to each resident, to adapting their wishing tree to grant residents wishes safely during lockdown, the team have shown they always go the extra mile,” said Samantha Bailey, head of marketing at Black Swan Care Group, which runs Laurel Lodge. “We are incredibly proud of each and every one of them.” 

Liliana Simionescu from Harriet Court

Liliana Simionescu was nominated by the daughter of a resident at Harriet Court for the outstanding care she has given to her dad - Credit: Harriet Court

Liliana Simionescu, team leader at Harriet Court, Norwich 

Liliana was nominated by Tracy High, whose dad, Dennis Webster, is a resident at Harriet Court. 

"Lilly, as I call her, has been outstanding over the past year,” said Tracy. “My dad has had sepsis, a heart attack, pace maker fitted, Covid, then another heart attack, and was diagnosed with bone cancer.

“Lilly updated me every time there were changes, and there were some very scary times, at all times of the day. I didn’t see my dad for months, and Lilly went above and beyond to keep us in touch, even using her own phone for video calls.

“I can't imagine what Lilly was going though at that difficult time. Lilly made me feel my dad was safe and I'm very grateful to her and her team.”

Liliana said: “By being there to support them, we have become a part of each tenant’s extended family, offering reassurance, and helping them to feel safe and secure throughout uncertain times. At the same time, we have also ensured tenants have been able to remain connected to their loved ones as much as possible.

“I am overwhelmed and honoured to have been nominated and shortlisted in this category.” 


A picture of staff and members of Centre 81

Centre 81 helps disabled people get more out of life, and where ability not disability is key - Credit: Julian Claxton Photography

Centre 81, Great Yarmouth 

Previously, members came and had fun at the centre, enjoyed activities in the community and travelled on the accessible minibuses. When Covid-19 struck, all that changed.   

Centre 81 had never experienced anything like this and the team knew that enforced isolation could have a serious effect on its members. So, it sprang into action: keeping in touch with members on the phone, taking orders for shopping deliveries and working out how it could safely reopen for members.

The answer was bubbles, and by the end of August, three individual units has been set up, which meant everyone could be kept happy and active at the centre while minimising the risk of transmitting or catching the virus.

Centre 81 has been able to provide 80 sessions a week to people who otherwise would have been stuck at home.

“Centre 81 is a place to rediscover old skills and learn new ones. A place that helps disabled people get more out of life, and where ability not disability is key,” said Diana Staines, chief executive of Centre 81. “Being shortlisted for the Local Care Heroes award is a great accolade for all at Centre 81 who have created new ways of working throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The staff and residents at The Lawns Housing with Care

The team at The Lawns were innovative in their response to the pandemic, organising a range of activities to keep residents connected and entertained - Credit: NorseCare

The Lawns Housing with Care, Great Yarmouth 

During the first lockdown, the team at The lawns adapted their ways of working to accommodate new guidance to help protect tenants, their families and staff.

One-to-one consultations replaced regular group meetings with tenants in the communal areas of the scheme. Staff explained new guidance, what changes had been brought into place and gave reassurance to people.

To keep spirits up for isolating tenants, the team played 'Laptop bingo' and 'Musical Movement' in the corridor 'streets' of the scheme. This enabled activities to continue in a socially distanced manner as well as boosting morale.  

As tenants couldn't go out for coffee, they purchased a barista-style coffee machine so tenants could enjoy their favourite drinks, and during the summer, a socially distanced garden party and afternoon tea with entertainment was organised.  

Other innovations included a pen pal scheme with a local school and staff learning to give haircuts - with some fabulous outcomes!  

Carole Nisbett, manager at The Lawns, said: “I’m proud to be surrounded by such a great group of people here at The Lawns, who I believe are all local heroes, going above and beyond during what has been an extremely challenging time.” 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter