Sara O’Reilly from Andover has won a national carers award for caring for her husband of 40 years after he developed several illnesses.
Sara, 58, has been caring for her husband, Eddie, 72, since 2000. His health started to deteriorate in 1998 when he suffered from heart disease and a number of strokes. Eddie has since developed vascular dementia which means that he requires constant care from Sara.
Sara is one of six winners of the LloydsPharmacy National Carers Awards 2015 organised by LloydsPharmacy and Carers UK. The winners were announced at a ceremony in London on 10 September.
Sara was nominated by her daughter, Sara Martin, 34, who joined her at the ceremony.
“I had no idea I had been nominated until my daughter walked through the door one day with a big smile on her face. She tried to keep it a secret that I’d won, but she eventually caved and told me,” said Sara.
“It has been difficult, particularly the last year,” Sara continued. “You just need to remember that what he says and does isn’t him, it’s his illness, but in that moment it can be difficult to hold on to. I do it because I love Eddie, and without him I wouldn’t have been given this award.”
Cormac Tobin, managing director of LloydsPharmacy, said: “I congratulate Sara on winning a LloydsPharmacy Carers Award. Her selfless dedication to caring for Eddie is humbling.”
“We wanted to support these awards to acknowledge, and pay tribute to, the millions of people across the UK who take care of others without seeking any kind of reward. We’d love to be able to thank every single one.”
Heléna Herklots chief executive of Carers UK said: “Caring will touch each and every one of us at some point in our lives, whether we begin caring for a loved one or whether we need care ourselves.”
“The realities of caring for a loved one can be challenging. We hear every day from carers who are facing emotional, physical and financial difficulties as a result of their caring role; but we also hear about how rewarding caring for a family member or friend can be.”
“These awards allow us to recognise and celebrate the unseen support that carers up and down the country provide. Every nomination showcased the huge reserves of strength, commitment and, above all, love that carers possess. Congratulations to everyone who was nominated and to this year’s award winners.”
Sara visited the Houses of Commons and met with the Rt. Hon Alistair Burt MP Minister of State for Community and Social Care ahead of the awards gala. She also received a trophy and £1,000 in high street vouchers plus a one-night stay at a luxury hotel in London and train travel.
The winners were chosen by a panel of judges five judges, including Baroness Jill Pitkeathley OBE, Vice President of Carers UK and Rachel Carr from the Department Of Health, and were selected from hundreds of nominees.