A GRANDMOTHER with a heart of gold is in the running for a major award for her work at a hospice helping children and young people cope with bereavement.

Ann Atkin, 61, is the family support officer at St Kentigern Hospice, in St Asaph, where she has worked since 2005.

She has been shortlisted for the Peter Clarke Award at this year’s Wales Care Awards.

The award is for promoting excellence in services for children and young people.

The event, arranged by Care Forum Wales, will be held at City Hall, Cardiff on November 17 and it will be hosted by top tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV adverts.

Mrs Atkin said: “I know that I have been nominated for an award, but for me the reward is doing the job I love.

“I feel very blessed to have the job I have - there is so much satisfaction from it.”

Her previous work was in teaching, working at a local high school with children who were under-achieving.

“It became clear that many of them had a bereavement not far beneath the surface,” she explained.

“We did a pilot study and it was through that that I re-trained as a counsellor.

“I continued working in the school and then the hospice job came up. For a time I did both, but (I) then opted for the hospice full time.”

She had taught a variety of subjects for several years, including 10 years at Deeside College, which is now part of Coleg Cambria, and she was also involved in a mission at Rhyl to teach English as a foreign language to students from throughout the world who wished to be missionaries.

Mrs Atkin, who lives in Meliden, has two grown-up daughters and a granddaughter.

She added: “I was looking for a more permanent post because that one at school was only term by term.

“I was invited to apply for the post at the hospice and it was the perfect job.

“It was a new role they were creating and I was able to combine my teaching skills with qualified counselling skills. I also do a lot of training, visiting universities and schools, helping those who work with children and young people about the impact of bereavement. I also do regular sessions training foster carers.”

It was hospice manager Joyce Bellingham who nominated Mrs Atkin for an award.

She said Mrs Atkin had striven to ensure that children and young adults got the support they needed, both before and after bereavement.

She had set up an open access children’s support service up to the age of 18 in North Wales.

For six years, Mrs Atkin has represented Wales on the Children’s Bereavement Network Advisory Board in London. In 2015, she wrote a book called Everything is Changing to support teenagers coping with grief, which is being used by bereavement services and schools nationwide.