A wonderful night to remember: Carer Friendly Awards 2024

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Saturday 15th June, Carers Trust Solihull gathered with friends, colleagues, volunteers, supporters and sponsors, nominees, finalists, and winners at Holiday Inn NEC for the second Charity Ball & Carer Friendly Awards.

The awards night was the grand finale to our Carers Week celebrations, dedicated to show appreciation for the work of special individuals and supportive organisations that go above and beyond, in their support for the carers of Solihull.

The evening began with our host, Phil Oldershaw of BRMB Radio, echoing the sentiments of the evening to those in attendance: “Carers Trust wants to celebrate and congratulate the carers alongside all those offering support in the community. These people are the unsung heroes.

Brandon Scott-Omenka, CEO of Carers Trust Solihull, then made his way to the podium through a sea of applause from an exuberant audience, all looking their best and in high spirits. Brandon further expressed his appreciation for all in attendance for showing their support for carers, the staff, and volunteers of Carers Trust Solihull for making Carers Week such a success. Special thanks went to the carers of Solihull – not just those in attendance but all who give up so much to help others.

This was exemplified by sharing a video of carers talking about their role, the sacrifices and efforts it requires but also the positives and feelings of accomplishment that come from it, as well as the help and support Carers Trust Solihull offers to carers. 

We implore you to watch it in order to gain a real insight into the lives of carers, why it is we do what we do and how the awareness raised and donations earned from this special evening are so highly valued. 

After a delicious three-course meal, provided by Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport NEC, the main event began and the awards were presented to their deserving winners, with the other finalists receiving a certifcate to recognise their dedication. 

Employer of the Year​

First up was the Employer of the Year award, won by the very energetic Teresa Farrel of Lily’s Tea Parlour, who danced her way to the stage.

In 2012, Teresa Farrell found herself facing adversity, having “lost everything” and on the brink of homelessness. However, with the support of her family, she not only found stability but also discovered a newfound purpose in helping others in need. Lily’s Tea Parlour is named for her mother, who was a tremendous inspiring spirit for Teresa and others. 

Educational Setting of the Year​

Educational Setting of the Year was won by Cameron Quinn, who unfortunately couldn’t be there on the night. However, his award was accepted on his behalf by Solihull councillor and carer Annette Mackenzie. 

Cameron, amidst a busy workload, ensures his school supports those with caring responsibilities, successfully raising awareness, achieving a YC award (Bronze), advocating for young carers’ safety and families, assisting other schools in implementing similar practices, contributing to a Trust-wide policy, and exemplifying unwavering compassion towards those in need.

Healthcare Provider of the Year​

Healthcare Provider of the Year was won by Solihull Healthcare Partnership and accepted by Dr. Clare Webb. A collaborative consortium of seven GP surgeries, has displayed exceptional dedication to supporting carers within their practices.

SHP has taken significant strides in implementing initiatives for the benefit of local carers. Dr. Clare Webb leads the carers initiative within SHP, demonstrating a proactive approach in ensuring carers are acknowledged and well-supported. Collaborating with colleagues, Dr. Webb exhibits compassion and empathy towards carers’ needs, taking tangible actions to provide necessary support.

Volunteer of the Year​

Nikki Burden was then chosen as our Volunteer of the Year. Nikki, a mother of four children and with additional needs herself, dedicates her life to supporting individuals with SEND, organising events and maintaining a Facebook support page to assist families, while pursuing a degree in SEND to further her knowledge and impact. 

Nikki has made a difference in the lives of countless children and families with her tireless dedication. 

Adult Carer of the Year​

Adult Carer of the Year was awarded to Emma Ruscoe but accepted on her behalf by Della Gough, herself a finalist for Volunteer of the Year.

Emma, the main carer for her husband with young on-set dementia, exudes positivity while providing care, balancing her role at Solihull Council Adult Care Social Services, and supporting her sons mentally and emotionally through difficult time. She also represents the Alzheimer’s Society on radio and TV, showcasing caregiving work with her positive attitude.

Young & Young Adult Carer of the Year​

Our final award was the Young & Young Adult Carer of the Year, presented to the fitting winner, Caleb Tracey. 

Caleb, a young adult carer for his sister with autism, ADHD, and depression, faced mental health and educational challenges alongside his studies at Solihull College, but has thrived since 2022, excelling as a student and carer. As an ambassador for young adult carers, Caleb has raised awareness, increased support resources within his college, and advocated for students in caring roles, becoming the Student Voice President to champion all students with special requirements.

Of course, the winners were highly deserving of their awards, showing the passion and dedication required to be a caregiver, whether directly or indirectly. However, we also wish to express our condolences to the other finalists, along with a massive congratulations. It is not a simple feat to be shortlisted as the best of the best throughout Solihull, but you made it. Every one of you should be extremely proud of your work, efforts, dedication, and passion for all you do to help carers throughout SolihullYou are all heroes.

The night was not just about recognising our heroes but also about having fun to raise awareness of carers and collect donations to support the work of Carers Trust Solihull. This is where our supporters, sponsors, and guests helped tremendously with our silent auction, raffle, and game of Heads or Tails, all of which had fabulous prizes!

With over 1,000 raffle tickets sold at £1 per ticket, it was an incredibly successful raffle, offering dozens of prizes, including a £30 Touchwood voucher, a body contouring session from Contour Collective, multiple hampers filled with various treats, sweets and drinks, and the top prize of the highly sought after £500 designer sunglasses. 

The silent auction caused many conversations with multiple lucky bidders trying their win the top prizes. These were a 23/24 squad signed Birmingham City Football Club shirt, a glider experience with Neal Clements Flying, and two tickets for an upcoming Girls Aloud concert. It was no wonder there were many groans from those in attendance who didn’t win but cheers from those who did. 

However, all were full of smiles knowing that every penny raised was going to supporting unpaid carers. Last but not least was our game of Heads or Tails, which filled the room with laughs when people were given the choice of putting their hands on their heads or bums. There was a reason for it, not just for the hilarious sight of people in glamourous dresses and dashing suits placing their hands on their bottoms. It was an opportunity for everyone to donate anything they wanted, then have the chance at winning £50, which was won by Volunteer of the Year finalist, Shaquille Scott. 

It was a night to remember and it’s impact will affect carers throughout Solihull. To see what else we got up to during Carers Week,  find out here: CELEBRATING CARERS WEEK 2024: PUTTING CARERS ON THE MAP 

We wish to thank UB Healthcare for being our main sponsor for the evening. Your continued support and dedication to Carers Trust Solihull is changing lives throughout Solihull. Thank you!

Thank you to our sponsors and supporters!

Related Whats on, Adult Carer, Volunteering, Young Adult Carer, Young Carer

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Raising awareness with BBC Radio WM

Our own Pauline Manby shared with Merisha Stevenson of BBC Radio WM, the work we do to help support and raise awareness for unpaid carers. Watch the segment here.

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