THE manager of a vital hospice centre that is undergoing a £2.5million expansion has been shortlisted for a top social care award.

Joyce Bellingham, 57, has been a familiar face at St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph for more than two decades, during which she has overseen a number of major changes.

It includes an innovative nurse-led approach that was pioneered by the hospice and the multi-million expansion that will increase its palliative care provision for residents in North East Wales.

Now a grandmother-of-four, Mrs Bellingham has managed the hospice since 2006 and her commitment during that time has led to her selection for the final list of nominees for the Excellence in Palliative and End of Life Care Award at this year’s Welsh Care Awards.

She was put forward by hospice consultant nurse Dinah Hickish, believed to be the first person to occupy such a role in palliative care in Wales.

“The hospice is my passion,” said Mrs Bellingham, who lives near Abergele. “It is what I have been doing for a long time. My family have played their part as well and the staff here are also passionate about what we do.

“It’s very humbling to be shortlisted for the award and it was very unexpected. But this is really about the hospice, rather than me.”

Mrs Bellingham’s achievement comes at a time of celebration for the hospice as it marks its 25th anniversary next year. Meanwhile the hospice, which includes an in-patient ward, day care unit, outpatient clinic and bereavement support, will be expanded to have 12 ward beds and a new café for community and hospice use.

Mrs Bellingham added: “We have to keep moving forward as a hospice and keep doing what we can.

“We are fortunate to have more than 400 volunteers supporting us. Without their generosity, we couldn’t do what we do.”

Mrs Hickish, who introduced the nurse-led model in which the hospice can admit patients, clinically assess them, initiate a program of care and prescribe treatments. said: “The humanity, love and care that Joyce shows to us employees has made us a unique family, cohesive in our fundamental aspiration to provide a first-class service to our community.”