We all need a break. A quiet hour, a day off, an undisturbed night’s sleep, or even some time away. Knowing that we need to take a break – and being able to do so – can be two very different things.

Following a year of unprecedented challenges for the 115,000 unpaid carers in Surrey, our GP carer personal health budget service (previously known as the GP carer breaks service) has never been more important.

This year we reached a significant milestone in our journey, having just provided our 20,000th carer break. This amazing achievement has been tinged with sadness as we also learned that the man behind this work Stephen Pugsley, sadly passed away earlier this year on 11th March 2021.

Stephen started his career in social work supporting children and families in south west Surrey. Following 25 years of service, Stephen embarked on a new career at Surrey Independent Living Council (SILC) as our GP Carers Breaks Manager. Based on the findings of the Surrey Carers Health Impact Survey 2011, the creation of our GP carers breaks service was an historic victory for Surrey carers. With Stephen’s vast experience of supporting carers, he was considered a safe pair of hands for this new service where, for the first time, GPs across Surrey were able to refer carers for a direct payment to allow them to take a well-earned break. Surrey was breaking new ground with this work and was later awarded the inaugural Commitment to Carers HSJ award in 2015 in recognition of our integrated approach to supporting carers.

Stephen was recognised as a compassionate man who did everything, he could do to improve the lives of carers in Surrey. As a carer himself he understood the real challenges that carers face and on behalf of the 20,000 carers Stephen supported we would like to join the Surrey carers team and SILC in thanking him for his tireless work to champion the needs of carers, with such great success.