Caring Julie soars above the rest to win award

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A Ballymoney woman is jetting to the sun after being named as Falcon Holidays’ Carer of the Year and winning a holiday worth £2,000.

Julie Wright, from Robinson Avenue, was nominated for the award by her mother who explained how Julie cared for her grandmother Agnes after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1994.

The nomination letter outlined how Julie gave up work to care for her granny, and explained the emotional turmoil experienced over the past 18 years as Julie’s grandmother “transformed into someone who hardly recognised her”.

Julie was described by her nominator as a selfless young lady who has been her grandmother’s main carer from the age of twenty-six and who happily expresses her love for her granny by meeting her every need.

“It takes someone very special to care in the way Julie does, she feeds her granny, washes her, dresses her beautifully and this is only a mention of the tasks she has to perform each day – tasks that would daunt most of us,” wrote her mother.

The severity of Agnes’ illness has led to suggestions that she should go into a residential home but Julie rejects this and insists on delivering personal care for her granny for as long as possible. As a result Julie has made many sacrifices in her own life and an annual holiday abroad has been out of the question for her.

“I never thought I’d win something like this”, said Julie, “I didn’t even know I’d been nominated!”

“Caring for granny is not something I expect to be rewarded for; I just love her very much and love that I get to spend time with her every day.”

“I’m over the moon at being given a Falcon brochure and asked to flick through it and pick a holiday. The brochure has so much in it but I like the idea of going to Lanzarote.” She added.

Falcon Holidays’ Brendan Mallon presented Julie with her Tyrone Crystal trophy and explained why she had won this year’s award.

“All judges were unanimous in their decision to present Julie with this year’s Falcon Holidays’ Carer of the Year award,” said Brendan. Julie’s selflessness and devotion to her grandmother along with the sacrifices she’s been making for almost 18 years to provide Agnes with an excellent level of home care makes her a worthy winner.

“The support and dedication she shows to those she loves is worthy of recognition. She is a wonderful lady and exactly the kind of person we have in mind for our Carer of the Year.”

“Congratulations to Julie and we are delighted she can now take a well deserved break,” Brendan added.

Area Manager of Alzheimer’s Society, Thelma Abernethy,said: “There are currently 18,300 people living with a diagnosis of dementia in Northern Ireland.  With the right information, care and support people with dementia can live well.  It is fantastic that Falcon Holidays are acknowledging and celebrating the positive difference that carers make to the lives of those living with dementia, through this award.” 

“Although Julie never expected any award for her many years of caring and devotion, it is lovely that her support and dedication to caring is being recognised through receiving the Carer of the Year title and award,” Thelma concluded.

As well as presenting a £2,000 holiday to the winner of the award, Falcon Holidays also donated a £1,000 holiday to the Alzheimer’s Society which was used to assist the local work of the charity.