A couple who have devoted themselves to caring for others even after enduring a life-changing car accident have been shortlisted for a top award.
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 30 years.
Now in their seventies, they are shared lives carers for the South East Wales Shared Lives Scheme.
They welcome adults in need of care and support to live with them for short term, long term or respite care and have supported scores of individuals with learning disabilities, mobility, dementia and mental health issues.
The couple say they are overjoyed to be shortlisted for a Wales Care Award in what could be their final year working in social care.
Supported by lead sponsor Ontex UK, and organised by care industry champions Care Forum Wales, the Wales Care Awards celebrate exceptional work in the care sector.
Cynthia and Morton are shortlisted in the Supported Living Care Practitioner Award category sponsored by Educ8 Training.
The winners of gold, silver and bronze will be announced at a glittering ceremony which all nominees are invited to attend at Cardiff City Hall on Friday, October 21.
The event will be live streamed online and the host for the evening will be popular tenor, Wynne Evans, aka Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV advertisements.
In 1990 Morton almost died and was left disabled with arthritis following a head-on car crash in which Cynthia was also badly injured.
But they still continued to put others’ needs before their own despite Morton having undergone numerous operations.
Recently they have supported a 94 year old living with dementia and her 63 year old son diagnosed with Downs Syndrome.
South East Wales Shared Lives Scheme worker Kathryn Williams said Cynthia and Morton epitomise the ethos of shared lives care.
She said: “They not only share their life with the individuals they support but also welcome all the individuals’ relatives and long term carers into their life, offering the same dignity and respect to each and every person who is fortunate enough to enter their home.
“The support doesn’t end there as every member of their family from their children to their great grandchildren welcome everyone as if they were an extended member of the Webber household.”
The couple have have continued in the role through family traumas, including the tragic loss of their beloved son-in-law to a heart attack, aged 52.
They have three children, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Cynthia said: “We’ve faced big challenges. We have one grandchild diagnosed with autism and another with muscular dystrophy, but caring runs in our blood.
“I’ve a daughter who’s a nurse and a grandson studying to be a social worker. We’re a close knit family too, we all live near each other and we stick together helping each other through thick and thin. That includes people we’ve supported over the years. We all keep in touch.
“There were 17 of us here for Sunday lunch at the weekend and Saturday was much the same, everyone loves Gramps’ cafe!”
Cynthia became involved in social care in 1989 as a Support Worker for Mencap and a Family Aid Respite Carer.
Following her retirement, she and Morton made the decision to become Shared Lives Carers in 2012.
The couple now feel it is finally time to retire from the roles they have so passionately and steadfastly dedicated themselves to.
Cynthia said: “We love being carers and would continue forever if we could but I’m 76 now and Morton is 78, so we have to be realistic, there comes a point when we have to give up.
“It’s an honour to have been nominated, especially this year.”
Kathryn said the couple are a credit to the shared lives scheme, adding: “Cynthia and Morton have a zest for life and a passion for supporting others less fortunate than themselves. They are without a doubt the most dedicated, determined, caring, family orientated couple I’ve had the pleasure to meet.”
Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the aim of the Wales Care Awards was to recognise the unstinting and remarkable dedication of unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.
He said: “The social care sector is full of wonderful people like Cynthia and Morton because it’s not just a job, it’s a vocation – these are people who go the extra mile for others.
“During the Covid crisis, this fantastic workforce rose magnificently to the challenge, putting their own lives on the line to do everything they possibly could to safeguard the people for whom they provide care.
“Unfortunately, it has taken a global pandemic for many other people to realise how important and how significant our social care workforce is.
“Their incredible contribution was summed up best in the powerful and emotive words of the song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, which was set to the famous tune of Men of Harlech. The message that the diolch should last forever is one that we should never forget.
“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards people need and never recognise the value of people who need care in society.
“All the nominees deserve to be lauded and applauded and it’s a real pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists.
“I congratulate all the individuals who have shown outstanding dedication and professionalism. Every one of them should be proud of their achievement.
“They are Wales’s finest.”