THE widow of hero Herefordshire ambulanceman Jeremy ‘Jack’ Daw has spoken publicly for the first time of her heartbreak.

“My husband went out to work and never came back,” Dawn Daw said, who met her husband at a youth club some 40 years ago.

Mr Daw, aged 66, was killed in April when his ambulance was struck by an object on the A49 between Hereford and Leominster as he and his colleague, who was driving, responded to a 999 call.

Mrs Daw was speaking after Herefordshire’s health and social care heroes were hailed at an online ceremony last Thursday.

Perhaps the most emotional moment came when Mrs Daw – instrumental in setting up the Leominster Meeting Centre which supports people affected by dementia – collected the overall accolade: the Outstanding Contribution to Health and Social Care Award.

It was awarded to her jointly with Jeremy, who also helped at the centre.

Mrs Daw also won the Dementia Carer Award and – together with Jeremy – the Care Hero Award for their work at the meeting centre.

Hereford Times: Ambulance technician Jeremy Daw (bottom left) with family membersAmbulance technician Jeremy Daw (bottom left) with family members

He had only returned to work as technician at West Midlands Ambulance Service four months before the accident after having retired in 2020.

He wanted to go back to help colleagues cope with the pressures of the pandemic.

He was a well-respected man in the community, his widow said, and not only did he help out in any way he could with the meeting centre, but he also enjoyed his own hobbies such as metal detecting.

Mrs Daw had bravely returned to work just six weeks after her husband’s death, determined to help some of those worse affected by the coronavirus pandemic, meaning those with dementia were surrounded by people who understood.

Accepting the award, she paid tribute her family, friends and colleagues for their support and love.

“It was an emotional situation, and on Thursday I was emotional. But on Friday, once it had sunk in I was honoured,” she said of her hat-trick of awards.

“I started working for the Alzheimer’s Society and they started up the meeting centre as a pilot with Worcester University and Herefordshire Council initially as a 12-month project.

“As I’ve gone on, I’ve learned more about dementia and the sole object is to treat that person as normal. I talk to them all the time and ask them things all the time.

“We never do anything at the meeting centre without involving the person with dementia getting their opinions.”

Hereford Times: Dawn Daw of the Leominster Meeting Centre received a hat-rick of awards at the 2021 Hereford Times Health and Social Care Awards. Picture: Rob Davies Dawn Daw of the Leominster Meeting Centre received a hat-rick of awards at the 2021 Hereford Times Health and Social Care Awards. Picture: Rob Davies

Supporting about 25 people living with dementia currently, the centre did not let coronavirus stand in its way, moving to online video calls when restrictions started in March 2020.

After that, Mr Daw was involved in making sure the centre was safe again as face-to-face meetings resumed.

Her husband was liked by everyone, and would have been proud of the awards, Mrs Daw said.

“I’ve had a lovely card off one of the members, and they’ve only been coming about six months. She was saying how much she appreciated my dedication and humour even though I’ve been through such a traumatic time.

Celebrity guests joined the host, TV’s Dr Dawn Harper, for the ceremony. Each offered their warm gratitude for the efforts of the finalists and their colleagues during what has been a testing time for the sector. A free winners’ supplement will be included for next week’s Hereford Times.

The other winners were:

Care Team Award: Wye Valley NHS Trust

Care Home Worker Award: Rebecca Joanne Marshall

Domiciliary Care Worker Award: Oliver Dale

Good Nurse Award: Amanda Pearson

GP Practice of the Year Award: Dr Silvana McCaffrey/Kington Medical Practice

Care Trainer Award: Joanne Bladen

Adolescent and Child Health Care Award: Chelsea Tolley

Palliative/End of Life Award: Gareth Hughes/Katherine Harriet

Mental Health Award: Emma Preece

Health Care Employer Award: Helen Gordon/Altogether Care