Meet care home hero who worked 'flat out' in lockdown

Leonie Matthews was crowned caring companion at the 2021 Ely Hero Awards 

Leonie Matthews was crowned caring companion at the 2021 Ely Hero Awards - Credit: ELY HERO AWARDS

A “fantastic” young carer who worked 12-hour shifts during the pandemic won the title of caring companion at the 2021 Ely Hero Awards.  

Leonie Matthews, who is a 22-year-old trainee senior carer at Soham Lodge, won the award as she “worked flat out 12-hour shifts during Covid and has not taken any time off”. 

Her team said she also “jumped into the role of head chef when needed” and introduced activities such as letter writing between residents and young people. 

They added ”Leonie loves her job as it is something she always wanted to do.  

“She loves to spend time with residents, is good at gauging moods and working with them on a one-to-one basis.  


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“She supports activities arranged such as singing, ensuring everyone enjoys their day and is well cared for.”  

Her nominator said “Leonie is a fantastic young carer who brings joy and happiness wherever she goes”.  

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The other finalists in this category were:  

Ali Daniels 

Ali Daniels was one of the finalists in the caring companion category at the 2021 Ely Hero Awards 

Ali Daniels was one of the finalists in the caring companion category at the 2021 Ely Hero Awards - Credit: ELY HERO AWARDS

Ali works in a pastoral role as student services manager at Soham Village College.  

Described as the “school mum”, Ali deals with all the young people in the school and is the glue between staff, pupils and parents.  

Oen the first point of call for support, Ali is passionate about her job, making herself available for very young students when they first arrive. 

Ali will be seen with brightly-coloured hair so pupils can identify her. She has a keen interest in mental health and wellbeing, believing in empowering young people with coping strategies and building self-confidence.  

Her nominator says “I couldn’t have got through this year without the support she’s given.  

“Nothing is ever any trouble and come what may she always has time to help us. 

“She is always at the end of her phone. I cannot thank her enough.”  

Ros Paynes  

Working for the Edmunds Trust, which gives respite and community care to disabled clients and their families on a long-term basis, Ros works regularly with a young man and his family for part of the year. 

But she also spends time every year in Thailand working with an orphanage and outdoor projects to support local people and children.   

She does not consider this her job but is delighted to find her niche to support others. 

“Always happy and smiling” is how her nominator describes her, adding that “Ros funds herself to go to Thailand, always putting others needs at heart”. 

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