DEVOTED carer Grace Topper is one of some 1,000 deserving folk to benefit from £200,000 in grants which recognise their special efforts.

The Carers’ Small Grant scheme - is run on behalf of Bradford Council by the Shipley base of charity the Carers’ Resource - and aims to give people well-earned breaks from the relentless pressures and stresses many of them face.

Applicants could seek up to £200 to go on a small break, take up a pastime or hobby, or enable carers to do something they had always wanted but never had the opportunity, such as learning a new skill.

And Mrs Topper, of Silsden, said the cash helped her “oomph back” after securing a grant to give her a much-needed pause from the daily pressures of looking after a loved one.

She looks after her long-term partner Keith Summersgill, 74, around the clock after the former marathon runner - once ranked 7th in the world for his age group in 1990 - suffered a severe stroke two years ago.

Mrs Topper said the grant was an opportunity to put herself “first” without feeling guilty.

"Imagine how I felt when I got a cheque for £200 on the proviso that I spent it on myself - on me! Doing something just for me," said the retired primary school music teacher, aged 64.

“The amount of pleasure and fun I got from just thinking about what I could do, gave me and myself esteem a real boost.”

She used her grant for two trips to the hairdresser, one to a beautician and a pamper day with her daughter-in-law.

“Keith was looked after for the day so it was a complete relax - utter bliss. I even have enough left for another visit to the hairdresser.

“To a 'normal' person all this may sound totally selfish, but after over two years of putting Keith's needs first, second and third. It was just so good to put me first for a few hours.

“I've finally got my oomph back!”

As a thank you for being awarded the grant, she decided to host a fundraising event in aid of the Carers’ Resource.

She took part in its “Time Out For Tea” campaign held during Carers’ Week in June, when the charity encouraged as many people as possible to share a cup of tea with family, friends or work colleagues, and make a donation.

Mrs Topper invited more than 40 family, friends and neighbours to an event to mark the “opening” of her new garden shed and raised £200 for the charity.

In total, 1,201 carers applied for a grant under the 2013/2014 scheme. Some 1,003 carers were successful in being awarded a grant, and a total of £197,155.80 was distributed.