North Wales social care pioneer Mario Kreft wins Leading Wales Award

A social care pioneer from Wales has won a prestigious award for his leadership skills.

Mario Kreft MBE, the owner of the award-winning Wrexham-based care organisation, Pendine Park, was honoured at the Leading Wales Awards.

The awards, organised in association with Cardiff Metropolitan University, seek to recognise and celebrate the contribution of leaders and leadership as a key driver of economic growth and success in Wales.

He came out on top in the Leadership in the Private Sector category that’s sponsored by the Hello Starling advertising agency.

The award was presented at a celebratory lunch and ceremony at the Hilton, Cardiff.

Mr Kreft, 57, is the son of a circus bear tamer, Franz Kreft, who came to Britain as a refuge from Slovenia after the Second World War and later met and married his mother, Pamela.

He was Christened in a circus tent in the South African city of Port Elizabeth and raised by his grandparents, Fred and Rene Warburton, who retired to Trefnant, near Denbigh, after selling their business, the former Pen-y-Don Hotel, on the promenade in Rhyl.

Mr Kreft and his wife, Gill, who live in Denbigh, established Pendine Park in 1985. They both had elderly grandparents who needed care and the places they went to see didn’t match their requirements – so they set up their own “family care home”.

The organisation now employs more than 600 people in seven care homes, a domiciliary care company, Independent Living, and their in-house Teaching Care Centre.

Work has just started on a £7 million centre of excellence for people with dementia that will create 100 new jobs in Caernarfon on the site of the former community hospital, Ysbyty Bryn Seiont.

Construction of the bilingual centre and 16 extra care apartments is now under way and, if everything goes to plan, the centre will open in September 2015.

Mr Kreft was awarded the MBE in 2010 for his contribution to social care in Wales and he was named as one of the 50 most influential people in social care in the UK by the magazine, Caring Business.

He said: “Social care is one of the most challenging areas of work and winning this sort of accolade gives us the motivation and the confidence to aspire to do even more in the future.

“As everybody knows, these things are never really just an individual thing, Gill has been a pillar of support throughout and I am eternally grateful for the support I receive from the staff at Pendine Park and Care Forum Wales.”

Barbara Chidgey, spokesperson for the Leading Wales Awards, said: “A significant milestone has been reached this year with the awards celebrating its tenth anniversary.

“It’s been another highly successful year of uncovering many individual leaders that really are having impact in our businesses, public and community services and charities all around Wales.

“Exceptional leadership in all sectors and at all levels of responsibility is essential if we are to build “The Wales We Want”. Each of our finalists is indeed just that – an exceptional leader.”

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