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Leicester Mercury Carers of the Year Awards 2012 : It's their turn for a little attention

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Unsung heroes have been thrust into the spotlight and honoured for their caring, devotion and dedication to others.

Nominees for the inaugural Leicester Mercury Carers of the Year Awards 2012 attended a ceremony at St Martin's House, in Leicester, on Thursday.

The 26 finalists in nine categories and the overall winner were selected from dozens of nominations received by the Mercury in the past four months.

BBC Radio Leicester pre-senter Julie Mayer hosted the event at St Martin's House as winners were chosen in nine categories.

Sharon Bee's selfless dedication to Leicester Stroke Club (Friday Group) saw her crowned as overall Carer of the Year.

Sharon, 59, of Thornton, only became involved with the organisation when she took a relative along to the group.

Sharon, who also won the voluntary sector worker of the year award, said: "That was seven years ago and I now run the group and I love it.

"I feel privileged and very surprised to receive not one but two awards.

Sharon, who was nominated by 17 people, won a five-day, £1,000 trip to either the Isle of Wight or Cornwall with Woods Coaches, with £500 spending money.

She said: "I can't make my mind up where to go, but I know I will give the £500 to the group because we need the cash."

Young mum Nicola Carter was chosen as Young Carer of the Year.

The 22-year-old, from Wigston, has surprised colleagues with maturity, experience and caring ability beyond her years when caring for a 54-year-old multiple sclerosis sufferer.

She said: "I can't believe I have won this award.

"It felt so great to go up there on the stage."

Chrissie Rhodes, assistant manager at Thurncourt Residential Home, was delighted to receive the Care Home of the Year Award.

She said: "I am honoured to get this on behalf of all the team at Thurncourt.

"It is rare for a council-run home to get such recognition.

"It is lovely to get nominated for an award and to actually win it."

Kevin Brown, managing director of main sponsor Woods Coaches, said he felt humbled to be sharing a room with such caring people.

Mr Brown gave a moving speech describing how he and his wife had to choose a care home for his father-in-law, Ernie, after he began to suffer from Alzheimer's disease.

He said: "I have had personal, first-hand experience through Ernie of just how brilliant these carers can be.

"They perform a vital duty in our lives and at times do not get the recognition they so richly deserve.

"We are delighted to be able to sponsor these awards so that we can highlight the wonderful work these carers do day in day out."

Mercury editor Richard Bettsworth, said: "The care system relies on the commitment of countless individuals across the country, including here in Leicestershire. Some are volunteers who give their time and energy through their devotion to a friend or relative.

"Others are paid care staff who go the extra mile to help those in need.

"All of them set an example which is both inspiring and humbling.

"The crucial role they play often goes unsung.

"That work deserves more recognition and needs to be celebrated.

"That is why the Leicester Mercury launched the Carer of the Year Awards."

Each category winner won a seat on a Woods coaches mystery tour weekend with £100 spending money.


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