A CARE home team leader from Porth-y-Waen who works to improve the lives of boys with complex behavioural issues has been shortlisted for a major award.

Shirley Johnson, 58, is described as the 'go-to' person for the boys at Branas Isaf in Denbighshire in order to therapeutic care, often using fancy dress and other creative ways to provide education for the 16-18 year olds.

And her work has led her to be nominated for a prestigious national award – The Welsh Care Awards – at Cardiff's City Hall next month, but Shirley insists her work is about improving their lives.

“We aim to promote a feeling of independence in the young people we care for and get them ready to move on to further education, independent living or back to their families," she said.

“I have been known to put on fancy dress outfits for special occasions such as Halloween or Christmas when I wore a blow-up Santa outfit.

“I also prepared non-alcoholic cocktails on New Year’s Eve to bring in the new year which the boys loved as they were experiencing a new event.

“I am currently working on a project in the home’s garden in which we’ve created a bug hotel in an unused space and put fairy lights on the back porch.

“It’s all about creating experiences and opportunities the boys might have missed out on along the way.

“The refurb projects we’ve been doing at the home are about showing that if we can look after the building we can also look after them.

“We try to make things as homely as possible and give out caring messages and I think I’ve managed to influence practices here.”

Branas Isaf’s operations manager, Leanne Bennett, nominated Shirley and praised her work.

“She is the most nurturing member of staff I have ever come across," she said.

"She is fun, supportive and a great role model to all staff.

“She has a talent for making special memories for everyone in the home and has organised a number of fun activities, events and celebrations.

“Shirley always goes above and beyond and is a truly valued member of the team.”

Shirley added she was shocked at being nominated then shortlisted for the Wales Care Awards and was only just coming to terms with it – and admitted that she still has shopping to do.

“It’s my job and I don’t look for praise," she said.

" I’d emphasise that the team have been behind me all the way.

“I’m looking forward very much to the presentation evening in Cardiff and I’m still looking for the perfect frock.”

The event is hosted by tenor Wynne Evans, also known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.