There are 59,000 people who care for an elderly or sick loved one in northamptonshire, including 7,000 young carers.
the number of carers is expected to have increased by 16 per cent when the results of the 2011 census are published this summer compared with 2001.
the work of these unpaid helpers is worth a massive £114bn to the nhs nationally, but you cannot put a price on the contribution they make.
some of these unsung heroes were honoured at the second annual northamptonshire carers awards yesterday, held at rushton hall.
mark major, director of northamptonshire carers, said: “on a daily basis i get to see the strength of the human spirit, and the people nominated for these awards are people who truly deserve to be honoured.
“without the support they give services would be overwhelmed.
“caring is something that will touch every family in northamptonshire at some time or another.
“the people who care for those with serious or terminal illness or long-term health conditions say a lot about the society we live in and more importantly about the threads that hold us together.”
mr major paid tribute to the selflessness of carers and the ‘strength of the bonds of love in these families’.
there were three categories at the awards – young carer of the year, carer of the year and gp supporting carers of the year, recognising the work of doctors who go the extra mile to help people caring for a loved one.
this was won by dr asif akram of greens norton medical centre in towcester. dr ahmed shurrub of the mounts medical centre in northampton was highly commended.
the winners of the young carer of the year award were twin brothers lewis and lloyd hilton, who won an ipad2, while the carer of the year award was won by michelle stanton.
Single mum Lisa Fordyce says her 13-year-old daughter Kelsey makes her proud every day.
Kelsey’s little sister Lexie, three, has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and cannot walk.
Even simple things like going shopping at the supermarket can be difficult but Lisa says her teenage daughter is always there to help her mum and her sister.
Lisa, of Corby, said: “As a single parent to both girls it’s very difficult but Kelsey is dedicated to her sister and helps every day with Lexie’s care needs – feeding, bathing, carrying. The list is endless and she never complains.
“Lexie’s nurse sent me an email about the Carers Awards and I decided to put Kelsey forward because she helps with everything. I didn’t tell her she was nominated, I wanted it to be a surprise. But I wanted her to know how much I appreciate her.
“She is so dedicated to helping with Lexie’s exercises and it lets me get on with jobs around the house.“She makes me proud every day.”
Kelsey is involved with an organisation called Northamptonshire Young Carers which puts young people who look after a family member in touch with others.
Lisa said: “They take them out for a meal and get to meet other children in the same situation.
“When you have a disabled child it does limit what you can do as a family so we have found the group really beneficial for Kelsey.”
Kelsey, a pupil at Corby Business Academy, said: “There is no dad around so my mum has only got me.
“I watch Lexie in the bath and watch her while my mum is doing jobs. I’m happy to do it.”
Kelsey has also been a huge help in the family’s fundraising work. They are hoping to raise £40,000 to send Lexie to America for revolutionary treatment which could help her to walk for the first time.
They have already managed to raise £30,000 through fundraising events.
Ryan Richards may be just 14 but he is mature beyond his years.
Ryan, a student at Kettering Science Academy, is studying for his GCSEs but he always finds time to help his mum Sharon to care for his sister Melissa, who has been diagnosed with Chrohn’s disease.
He also spents a lot of time looking after Melissa’s two-year-old son Tylar when she is unwell.
Sharon nominated Ryan for the award to thank him for all he does.
She said: “He is always so supportive, especially this year. He is always helping me.
“Melissa has been really poorly and we have been looking after Melissa’s son and Ryan has been amazing.
“I am disabled myself so I can’t lift Tylar but Ryan will carry him downstairs and help get him dressed before he goes to school himself.
“Ryan is trustworthy, patient and will do anything that needs to be done.
“Me, Ryan and his dad, the three of us work together to get the tasks done that need to be done.”
Ryan also has a grandmother who is in a care home but he will often go to visit her, spending time sitting and chatting with her.
Of his nomination for the Northamptonshire Young Carer of the Year award, Ryan said: “I was a bit surprised.
“I’m happy to help. Spending time with Tylar is fun.”
Sharon said: “I wanted him to know how much he is a help to me, that was my ultimate aim.
“He helped me during the summer holidays and after school to look after Melissa who went down to seven stone.
“Ryan is the ultimate son, brother and uncle to Tylar.”
Eleven-year-old Lauren Leslie is her grandmother’s right hand girl.
When Janet Clark, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, had a fall in July, Lauren moved in with her gran to look after her.
Janet, 66, of Rushden, said: “When I came home I couldn’t get in or out of bed so Lauren came to stay with me during the school holidays to help me get dressed and help me get into bed.
“Even when she was back at school she wanted to come up and help me because she knew I couldn’t cope alone.
“My daughter Karen would bring her up in the evening. At 6am she would get up, make me a cup of tea and then her mum would fetch her and take her home to get ready for school.
“She had a lot to cope with last year because her dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and her other nan died.
“But I don’t have to ask her for help, she volunteers.
“She knows instinctively what I need.
“I could not manage without her.”
Lauren has even been on holiday with Janet and her nan’s friends to look after her and help her get about.
They have been to Jersey and on two cruises together.
Janet says Lauren’s brother Aaron, 12, has also been a huge help and will often come to her house to lend a hand.
Lauren, who goes to Rushden Community College, said: “My nan told me she had nominated me for the award and then a week later we got a letter. I just thought, ‘wow’.
“I push her around in the wheelchair and I do the housework.
“I like doing it for her.”
Lauren, together with Kelsey and Ryan, was highly commended in the Young Carer of the Year category.
She received a certificate of commendation, a £20 voucher for WHSmith and a £10 voucher for HMV.
Her gran and her mum were at the ceremony to see Lauren receive her prize.