Ex-Lego boss in line for award after building new future in social care

A former high-flying businessman and award-winning sports coach put his talents – and Lego – to good use during lockdown.

When a group of young people in his care faced possible frustration at seeing their activities severely restricted Gary Bassett knew exactly what to do.

Now his skill in communicating with the lads and keeping them occupied has led to his being shortlisted for a prestigious award.

Gary, 49, is a team leader at Pant Glas Uchaf care home near Ruthin which accommodates about six youngsters, some with complex behavioural problems.

The home is part of the Caretech company, and  it is deputy manager Claire Howard who has nominated Gary for one of this year’s Wales Care Awards.

The awards are organized by Care Forum Wales to recognize outstanding work in the care sector. Gary, who near Mold,  has been shortlisted in the category for Residential Support Worker, sponsored by Christie and Co.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony in City Hall, Cardiff, on October 21, when the host will once again be the popular tenor and radio presented Wynne Evans, well-known as Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV adverts. The evening, which is sponsored by Ontex UK, will be streamed live on the night.

Gary has worked at Pant Glas for about five years but has a wealth of experience in business and in dealing with young people.

For 10 years he was human resources director for Lego, responsible for central and southern Europe. But he gave that up to launch his own sports coaching company A-Star Sports Ltd., a franchise which grew to cover much of the country.

He has always been interested in sports and in 2014 was named as Coach of the Year for Cheshire West and Chester.

He decided on yet another change of direction and immediately took to his new role at Pant Glas, forever finding new ways of keeping the youths occupied after listening to their wishes.

“There is a huge amount of trust in Gary from management to the staff team and the young people,” said Claire.

“The effort that Gary goes to means that the boys get a fantastic mix of choosing their own activities and trying new things, developing their abilities and widening their experience.”

Claire and her colleagues were particularly impressed by the work Gary did with one of the home’s more challenging teenagers who, as a result of the support and encouragement he received, left Pant Glas having had a job and college placement.

When the pandemic curtailed many activities Gary managed to keep the boys as active as possible, bring in his own extensive collection of Lego to help keep them motivated.

“Without Gary the lockdown would have had a much more negative impact on the health and well-being of the young people,” said Claire.

Gary said his experience in organizing activities for children during school holidays had proved very useful at Pant Glas and he thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.

“The type of clientele we have means that they can sometimes become frustrated, but I enjoy planning their activities,” he said.

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 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.”

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