ST DOGMAELS charity fund-raiser Derek Burton enjoyed mingling with the stars at the Pride of Britain Awards at a glittering gala ceremony in London last week.

The glitzy event – hosted by Carol Vorderman and Ashley Banjo – was held at The Grosvenor House in Park Lane on Saturday night and televised by ITV last night.

And – dressed to impress – Derek and partner Cindy Rogers cut quite a dash as they bestrode the red carpet before a battery of reporters and photographers, with Derek proudly displaying his Cardi roots with a ‘Criw Glo’ logo.

Derek won through to the finals by being crowned ITV Cymru Wales Fundraiser of the Year last month after carrying 50kg of coal on his back across hundreds of miles for charity.

The brickwork college teacher – a former head coach and captain of Cardigan RFC – came up with the unique idea from seeing men delivering coal to his house as a child.

The 55-year-old said he wanted to give back to the local community and to raise money for children living in the area who had illnesses or disabilities.

The money raised on each challenge has gone to families in the community, and a local school in Aberporth - to build a sensory garden for pupils.

Derek's fund-raising efforts have also been able to buy essential things to improve lives, such as a mobility chair and petrol to travel to hospital for treatment.

His numerous walks and challenges have seen him travel around 745 miles and raise around £55,000 for good causes.

He even went on to set up his own 'Criw Glo' (Coal Crew) to help bring the community together and generate even more donations through group walks.

Reflecting on his coal-carrying feats, Derek said: “The first one was easy, but on the second one, I hurt every mile on that one.

"It never gets easier, I've never done an easy one. But as much pain as I've been in, that's nothing compared to the people we're raising money for.

"I've felt like quitting on all the walks, but I've got good people around me who remind me why I'm doing it and what for, and I can't quit then.

Cardigan Town Council are sending him a message of congratulations.

“Derek has supported so many charities throughout the years,” Cllr Catrin Miles told colleagues, “not just in Cardigan but throughout the area.”

Cllr Elaine Evans said: “I would like you to extend my huge congratulations to him from me as a councillor and as a friend who I have known for over fifty years.

“Even though Derek wasn’t chosen as fundraiser of the year, he will always be a winner in the eyes of our community.”