A care home pioneer received an honorary fellowship from a university.
Mario Kreft MBE, who set up the Pendine Park organisation in Wrexham, North Wales, with wife Gill in 1985, received the award from the town’s Glyndŵr University for services to the health and care industries.
Glyndŵr’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Michael Scott, presented him with the award, following an introduction by Karen Graham, Prof of Early Childhood Studies.
Mario said: “I am so honoured and proud to receive this award from Glyndŵr University.
“One word that’s been used today is ‘inspiration’, and in life it is those people who inspire that make a difference.
“There are many inspiring people here today, particularly young people whose journey is just beginning.”
Mario, who lives in Denbigh, is currently building a new £7 million centre of excellence for dementia care in Caernarfon.
He is also Chair of Care Forum Wales (CFW), which represents the independent sector in Wales, and the founder of the prestigious Wales Care Awards.
The 57-year-old was awarded an MBE in 2010 and has won a host of other prizes, including the Leading Wales Award for Leadership in the Private Sector 2014.
Mario is the son of a circus bear and lion tamer, Franz Kreft, who came to Britain as a refuge from Slovenia after the Second World War and later met and married his mother, Pamela.
He was Christened in a circus tent in the South African city of Port Elizabeth and raised by his grandparents, Fred and Rene Warburton, who retired to Trefnant, near Denbigh, after selling their business, the former Pen-y-Don Hotel, on the promenade in Rhyl.
Mario and Gill established Pendine Park because they both had elderly grandparents who needed care and the places they went to see didn’t match their requirements – so they set up their own “family care home”.
The organisation now employs more than 600 people in seven care homes, a domiciliary care company, Independent Living, and their in-house Teaching Care Centre.
Construction of the bilingual centre and 16 extra care apartments in Caernarfon is now under way and, if everything goes to plan, the centre will open in September 2015.
Mario was awarded the MBE in 2010 for his contribution to social care in Wales and he was named as one of the 50 most influential people in social care in the UK by the magazine, Caring Business.
He paid tribute to the love and support of his family, especially Gill, who helped him realise his vision of a care organisation aimed at providing a first class service to those who need it most.
“With their support we were able to transform lives and make a difference,” he said.
“We should all come into this world and try to make it a better place for those less fortunate than ourselves.
“Respect and dignity are part of everything we do and we will continue to spread that message in the hope society will become a much fairer and just place.”
Caption: Mario Kreft MBE pictured with Vice Chancellor Prof Michael Scott (left) and Sir Jon Shortridge, Chancellor of Glyndwr University