YOUNG people have voted for a Denbigh foster carer to win a top award.
A former Royal Engineer who has gone on to devote his life to helping young people has been presented with a prestigious award from the Welsh government.
Nick Hargraves, from Denbigh, was presented with the Your Choice award, voted for by young people, at the Welsh Government Youth Work Excellence Awards held in Llandudno.
Nick and his wife Carol, both 52, are foster carers with the UK’s leading independent fostering agency Foster Care Associates (FCA) helping to provide a secure and stable home environment for vulnerable youngsters.
He said he was overwhelmed to have been nominated for the award – never mind winning it.
He said: “The fact that the young people I work with felt I was good enough to be nominated for such an award was enough but to win is very special indeed.
“After the Welsh Minister had given out the other awards I was left until the very end when they introduced Professor Howard Williamson CBE, one of the most honoured trustees of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, to give me my prize.
“It was all very humbling indeed, particularly seeing the other people winning their awards and hearing about the fantastic work they do.”
Nick, who spent 15 years in the armed forces, works for Denbighshire Youth Services as a Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme instructor, as well as a learning coach at Plas-Cefendy School in Rhyl.
He and his wife have been foster carers for nearly five years and Nick explained what made them take the leap and how one of the children they are looking after has already benefited from his influence.
He said: “I encouraged one of our placements at the moment to join the youth service and they are doing their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.
“In fact I am currently organising a trip for them and up to 20 people to do their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award on the River Moselle in Germany.
“Fostering was something that my wife and I had both discussed and when our three daughters had all grown up and left it felt like the right time to do it.
“However, the catalyst was when we went to visit my wife’s sister who fosters. We met a young man who she was looking after who was absolutely fantastic and such an inspiration considering what he had been through.
“It made us want to help other vulnerable youngsters like him to get them on the right track to grow up to be such impressive young adults.”