Community Champion receives honorary fellowship


Jeff Thomas, a highly respected community champion, has today been awarded an honorary fellowship by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David for his contribution to the town of Carmarthen.

Jeff was born in the Amman Valley and attended Glanaman Primary School and Amman Valley Grammar School before leaving to work at the age of 16 years to support the family following his father's coal mining accident. He soon joined the Police Service, spending almost all of his service in the Criminal Investigation Department. He was promoted to Detective Chief Superintendent and Head of Dyfed Powys Police, leading countless murder investigations. He was also involved in, what was at the time, the longest paedophile trial in the United Kingdom and an IRA operation leading to the recovery of a large cache of explosives and firearms. He retired from the Police Service in the year 2000.

Jeff passionately believes that communities must be shaped by the needs, views and efforts of its citizens and has taken a keen interest in the sporting, cultural, religious and community life of Carmarthen, where he has lived for the past 30 years.

As well as being a leading figure in the police force, Jeff - a sporting enthusiast – also played first class rugby for Swansea, gaining International honours at Under 19 level.

He has served as a Chapel deacon for many years and has been Chairman of many organisations including the Rotary Club, School Governors Body, Parent Teachers Association, Carmarthen Male Voice Choir, Clwb Cinio Caerfyrddin and Carmarthen Town Football Club. He also serves as a County Councillor representing a Carmarthen Town ward.

But his greatest contribution has, undoubtedly, been to Carmarthen Town Football Club and was instrumental in helping build their ground to a 3,000 capacity UEFA (European standard) licensed ground and indeed many such matches have taken place there.  He was also responsible for forming the Club's Youth Academy and Community Centre.

The Youth Academy currently has nearly two hundred members and the Community Centre is a thriving venue for community activity, being particularly focused in aiding poverty related activities.

Jeff is a real jack of all trades and has brought in sponsorship and advertising revenues, which coupled with grant aid amounts to an incredible £2 million.

Gwilym Dyfri Jones, Associate Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David presented Jeff Thomas with his fellowship said: “Community leadership has been described as the courage, creativity and capacity to inspire participation, development and sustainability for strong communities.  Jeff Thomas possesses the dedication and drive that is a paramount necessity in being an effective leader, and he has selflessly provided time and effort throughout the years in support to Carmarthen and its people.

“He has served his town and county with distinction and has successfully inspired individuals to work together as a community, to better their lives and their children’s future.”

On receiving his fellowship, Jeff Thomas said: “My sincere thanks for this honour.  I’d like to think that this invitation is a public statement of appreciation and of a principled approach by this university in recognising, that humbly serving one’s community, is a prize in itself.

“I’m grateful to this community, I’m grateful to this university as is the community in which it is rooted.”

Jeff Thomas has been married to Eirlys for the past 43 years and they have three children, all of whom are schoolteachers. They have eight grandchildren and Jeff now hopes that they will now become his greatest project as he hopes to spend as much time as possible in their company.