In a ceremony held on December 19 in the Council Chamber, Aberaeron, the British Empire Medal was awarded to Paul Thomas of Sarnau.
The medal was awarded for 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 British Empire Medal was presented by Sara Edwards, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed.
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.”
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 Chair 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 in Cardigan.
He co-founded and is a trustee of Tŷ Cariad Africa, a UK charity, which raised the funds to convert a donated building in Uganda now called Tŷ 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.”
The British Empire Medal is awarded to people who have made sustained and high-impact work in their community.
Police issue warning to community over ‘fake beggars’
POLICE in Aberystwyth are warning the community about a fraudulent group who have been travelling to the area to beg.
Many residents and visitors have donated cash believing members of the group are genuinely in need.
PC Phil Woodland: “I’m proud to work in a town where people want to help each other, but in this case, their kindness is being exploited.
“We’ve tried working with the group to ensure they have the support they need, and through this effort it’s become clear they are not genuinely homeless. We are using legal powers where possible and necessary to deal with the issue.
“Giving money to someone who is begging is a personal choice, however, on this occasion the community is being misled. At the end of the day, these people are returning to their homes – they are essentially scamming people.”
Those involved are described as men and women of Romanian descent, aged between 30 and 50. Police say they visit Aberystwyth on the train or bus, and return home to Cardiff at the end of the day.
The situation is being monitored by the neighbourhood policing team, and anyone with information is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police online: http://bit.ly/dppReportOnline, by email: email@example.com or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.
If you are concerned about someone you believe is sleeping rough, StreetLink exists to help connect them with the local services that can provide support: https://www.streetlink.org.uk/
Shelter Cymru offers practical advice on how to help someone who is begging, or you believe is homeless, on their website: https://sheltercymru.org.uk/7-ways/
RNLI in Wales urges people to stay safe as Storm Brendan hits
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging people to stay safe near the Welsh coast as severe weather could make our seas and coastlines particularly dangerous.
Lifesaving charity, the RNLI, is encouraging people to exercise extreme caution if visiting the shoreline, especially along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers.
The expected strong winds and severe gales pose a severe safety risk to those visiting the coast.
Named Storm Brendan by Met Eireann, it swept eastwards across Ireland before making its way through the rest of the UK this morning with yellow wind warning in place for most of the Welsh coast.
Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead for Wales said:
‘This rough weather could make visiting parts of the Welsh coastline treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions.
‘Sadly, around 150 people lose their lives on British and Irish coasts each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.’
If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you have something that floats that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself – too many people drown trying to save others.
The charity, which provides a search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, is facing its own Perfect Storm as demand for its services has increased but it is facing a shortfall in funds. This past year, the RNLI has been busier than ever, and stormy conditions can mean additional call outs for the already extremely busy volunteer crews. Whatever the weather, RNLI volunteers will still be on call to rescue those at difficulty at sea.
The RNLI’s major new fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm, which aims to help the charity get back to living within its means, is running throughout November and December. To find out more or to donate visit RNLI.org/ThePerfect Storm.
Are you missing out on a Council Tax reduction?
IF YOU’RE struggling to pay your Council Tax bill, then help could be available for you through the Welsh Government’s flagship Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS).
The scheme, which will continue to support vulnerable households in 2020-21, currently benefits one in five of all households in Wales. In the last year almost 280,000 low-income households have received help from the scheme, with 220,000 paying no council tax at all. Many more receive other discounts or exemptions.
You may be entitled to pay less council tax if:
• you believe you live on a low income
• you live alone, or with people/children who do not pay council tax
• you are a student
• you are disabled
• you are severely mentally impaired
Understanding why there are still vulnerable households not benefitting from the help they are entitled to is a priority for the Welsh Government. Last year we commissioned research to understand the circumstances of households in Wales and the effects of the UK Government’s Universal Credit on the CTRS.
The interim report out today shows that for many households, the move to Universal Credit can have a significant impact on council tax reduction awards. Whilst many households currently receiving a 100% reduction will continue to do so, for others, the move to Universal Credit is shown to have an adverse impact, particularly for employed households, self-employed households, and working households in receipt of a Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.
Full findings of the interim report are available on the Welsh Government website. These findings will now be considered in more detail to inform the next stages of the research and policy development in this area.
Encouraging people to make sure they are not missing out on help they could be entitled to, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:
“Ensuring every household in Wales receives the council tax support they are entitled to is an important part of our commitment to making council tax fairer.
“Our scheme is already helping hundreds of thousands of households across Wales, but we know that there are still many missing out on the discounts, reductions and exemptions they are entitled to. I encourage everyone to check the Welsh Government website to find out if they could be paying less.”
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