Once again, nominations are being sought for the third Kirklees Carer of the Year competition, in which people who look after friends or relatives out of the goodness of their heart can be recognised and rewarded. ANDREW HIRST reports

WHO is your top carer?

The search for the Carer of the Year is launched in today’s Examiner.

Once again the paper is giving you the chance to nominate your favourite carer. Following a fantastic response to our carer of the year contest last year, when more than 70 people were nominated, we are running the competition once again, with the help of sponsors Kirklees Council Adult Services Carers’ Gateway, Batley Rotary Club, the Cedar Court Hotel and the Edinburgh Marriott Hotel.

The third Kirklees Carer of the Year competition is part of Carers’ Week 2008.

People are asked to nominate their special person to become the Carer of the Year.

Last year Stephen Shepherd was crowned the winner after Examiner readers voted for him in a phone poll.

The full-time carer was chosen for devoting the last 12 years to looking after his partner Sandra Hall, who was born with cerebral palsy, a neurological condition affecting muscle control and movement.

The pair, who live together in Dalton, met 18 years ago and have been inseparable ever since.

They were presented with a weekend break worth £500.

Carers provide unpaid care for a partner, relative, friend or neighbour who cannot look after themselves because of illness, disability, old age or frailty.

This includes parents of children with a disability and carers of people who have drug or alcohol-related problems or mental health concerns.

People of any age, including children, can be carers. They might provide care for just a few hours a week or round-the-clock support.

There are an estimated 40,000 unpaid carers in Kirklees caring for relatives, friends or neighbours who are ill, frail or have a disability.

About 1,200 of these are young carers who look after their mums, dads, brothers and sisters and other family members.

Many carers give up work to care, some find it difficult to juggle work and caring while others find it difficult to take up work, leisure and training opportunities.

National Carers’ Week has been promoted by Kirklees Council Adult Services since 1995.

During this week organisations are invited to host events across Kirklees in an attempt to raise the profile of carers at a local level.

It is an opportunity to recognise the contribution the carer’s role makes to society and the need to continue developing policies and services to support them.

Kirklees events help in raising awareness of the carer’s role and offer valuable services to carers such as the opportunity to enjoy a break, learn new skills, find out information about social care, health and employment and get advice and support.

Carers Week will highlight the impact caring can have on carers’ health and wellbeing.

Kirklees Council Adult Services Carers Gateway want to help even more carers this year by highlighting the fantastic job they do and giving them the support they need in their caring role.

“The impact caring has on my health and wellbeing” is the theme of this year’s National Carers’ Week, which runs from Monday June 9 until Sunday June 15.

Once again Kirklees Council Adult Services Carers’ Gateway will work in partnership with many organisations, such as other council departments, health services, the pension service and voluntary groups to organise Carers’ Week activities across the district.

Clr Margaret Bates, Cabinet member for Adult Services, said: “Carers’ Week will culminate with an award ceremony where prizes will be presented to the winners of the Carer of the Year competition.”

Fill in our entry form to nominate your great carer.

Carers who would like to know more should contact Kirklees Council Carers’ Gateway on 01484 226050 or 01484 223000.

The email is carers.gateway@kirklees.gov.uk or you can visit www.kirklees.gov.uk/carers

Help is also available on 01924 325070 or by calling at Gateway to Care, 30 Market Street in Huddersfield town centre or the Walsh Building, Town Hall Way, Dewsbury.