Mary Anson has spent her working life caring for others, first as a nurse and then as a care home manager and later as registered provider (owner) of four care homes and a small domiciliary care agency.

She was nominated for a Cross of St Piran award by Rev’d Olive Stevens for her years of devoted service to the church and her work with people suffering from the various forms of dementia.

Mary, who has also been a churchwarden at Christchurch Lanner for over 20 years, says she was ‘gobsmacked’ to receive the award. “I have only just started telling people about it! I know that I have not done anything more than anyone else.”

The church has always been a feature in Mary’s life. As a child she attended Sunday School and church youth clubs. “Church has played a significant part in my life. My family moved to Singapore when I was 15 and I finished my schooling in an Army school where it was compulsory to attend church on a Sunday.”

Mary returned to the UK at 18 to start nursing and it was while she was training in Dorset that she met her husband through a colleague. “I moved to Cornwall on marriage in 1973 after taking my final examinations, and began nursing at Falmouth Hospital.”

After a three year stint in Bermuda, the couple returned home and Mary took up a job at Tehidy Hospital before leaving formal employment to care for two elderly ladies in need of support in her own home. “This meant I was able to work from home, although when the children came along I returned to the NHS, working night shifts at City Hospital in Truro.”

In 1980, with the arrival of the first of two children and while fostering two siblings long term, Mary joined the Duchy Hospital in Truro as a theatre sister, and in 1989 she responded to an advert for a matron/ manager position at Kenwyn Nursing Home; a role which set the pattern for a permanent commitment to caring for older people and people with dementia.

Setting out on her own as a registered provider in 2001, Mary’s latest care home is innovative in its design and aims. “Crossroads House is almost two years old now. It has been designed to be a living community with an emphasis on meaningful activity, independence and self-determination. There is so much space allowing us to create a ‘village’ complete with barber’s shop, tea shop, stores, pub, church and even a railway station.”

Each bedroom corridor has been given a street name and each door has been modelled to look like a front door with porch and letter box.

Mary is active in Cornwall Partners in Care and is an outspoken advocate for people in care homes and the people who run them. “Our aging population needs people who care enough to want to look after them.”

To add to her busy life, Mary is also a trustee for Headway Cornwall which is an independent charity for adults with an Acquired Brain Injury, Chair of Trustees of Bain Memorial Housing Trust, a Rotarian and has been a Lanner parish councillor for over ten years.