THE British Empire Medal has been presented to a former Sarnau firefighter at a special ceremony.

The BEM was awarded to Paul Thomas for his pastoral care to the Fire and Rescue Service in Wales and his extensive charity work.

Mr Thomas worked for the Fire and Rescue Services for 34 years as an operational firefighter and then served as voluntarily chaplain for Fire and Rescue Services for the last 15 years.

The medal was presented to him by Sara Edwards, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, at a ceremony at Ceredigion County Council headquarters, in Aberaeron.

Mr Thomas established a school and a children’s home in Uganda and is chaplain to the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service. He holds the post of national chairman to the Fire and Rescue Service Chaplains’ Association of Great Britain and Islands.

He is an ordained Elim Pentecostal minister and is part of the leadership team of Mount Zion Baptist Church at Cardigan.

He co-founded and is a trustee of T? Cariad Africa, a UK charity, which raised the funds to convert a donated building in Uganda now called T? Cariad into a children’s home and continues to work tirelessly to improve the work.

The charity pays the running costs of the home which helps orphans and vulnerable children.

He has worked with ex-President Jimmy Carter building homes for the homeless in South Africa through Habitat for Humanity.

After receiving his British Empire Medal, Mr Thomas said: “I am delighted to have received this great honour and to have shared the ceremony with my family and friends. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve and help people in need.”

Ceredigion County Council chief executive, Eifion Evans, who presided over the ceremony said: “Mr Thomas is fully deserving of the British Empire Medal. He has served communities at home and abroad with great compassion and dedication. His achievements are extraordinary and has certainly had a great impact on the lives of many.”

The British Empire Medal is awarded to people who have made sustained and high-impact work in their community.