INSPIRATIONAL care co-ordinator Eniko Acatalinei was the big winner at last year’s West Wales Health and Care Awards.

She enjoyed a very special night, winning not one but two accolades, as the region’s health and care heroes were honoured just before Christmas.

And now the search is on for her successor as winner of the outstanding contribution to health and social care award – she also won the care hero prize in 2021.

Nominations for 13 award categories – the outstanding contribution honour comes from all the other award winners – are now open.

Now in its fifth year, the event is set to return to an in-person ceremony at the Pembrokeshire County Showground on Thursday, September 15 after the last two editions were broadcast online.

Her double triumph last December meant so much to Ms Acatalinei, who moved to Wales from Romania more than 20 years ago.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have won,” she said. “It’s really an honour to accept this award.

“I’d like to take the opportunity to congratulate the other nominees. You are really inspirational.

“Working in care isn’t easy but is one of the most rewarding careers you can choose because we make a big difference to our service users.

“I’m so grateful for my colleagues, past and present, in ND Care & Support. We have an amazing community in Cross Hands and I’m so proud of all of us.

“Finally, thank you to the organisers of these awards for giving us the platform to celebrate carers and the amazing impact we make to our community.”

Eniko Acatalinei

Eniko Acatalinei

After finishing education in her homeland, her first experience in care was as a church volunteer, supporting disadvantaged families, including parents with addictions, as well as building a new church and fundraising.

She was told of an opportunity to volunteer in Wales and care for adults with learning difficulties.

Just 24 at the time, she moved more than 1,000 miles across Europe in 2001 to live and volunteer in a college supporting individuals with complex needs.

While volunteering, she asked for the chance to do her NVQ Level 2 in care and the college fully supported her.

When her 12-month volunteer programme ended, the college saw her immense potential and asked her to stay as a volunteer.

The decision to stay was very emotional, however, it was a significant turning point in her career.

Over the next five years, she supported adults with learning disabilities, was promoted to a senior position of volunteer manager, completed Level 2 and 3 NVQ in care, and completed Level 4 NVQ in management.

She later became a registered manager for two small homes for individuals with learning difficulties.

In 2007, she briefly returned to Romania and brought her partner back to live in Wales, before starting a family and, in 2010, becoming a domiciliary care worker.

She joined ND Care & Support as a care co-ordinator in 2018.

This year’s awards, sponsored by Werndale Hospital, part of Circle Health Group, have the following categories:

Volunteer of the Year

Mental Health Award

Care Home of the Year

Health Charity of the Year

Marketing Campaign of the Year

Health Charity of the Year

Primary Care Team of the Year

Primary Care Person of the Year

Hospital Staff Member of the Year

Community Based Team of the Year

Community Based Individual of the Year

Excellence in Quality Health & Social Care

Contribution to Covid-19 Response

As well as Werndale Hospital, who are also backing the outstanding achievement award, Direct Nursing Services, Pembrokeshire County Council, Western Power Distribution, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Specsavers have come on board as category sponsors.

You can make a nomination by visiting