Dr Rhys Thomas awarded Honorary Fellowship


Consultant anaesthetist Dr Rhys Thomas joined hundreds of students collecting their degrees at UWTSD’s Carmarthen campus today (Tuesday, 5 July) as he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University.

Rhys Thomas + Rhieni

Born and raised in Llandeilo, Dr Thomas studied medicine in London before joining the army and the Parachute Regiment where he served in Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan as a medic with the rank of Lt. Colonel. Dr Rhys Thomas is now a Consultant Anesthetist with Hywel Dda University Health Board.  

During the Coronavirus crisis, Dr Thomas used his experience as a senior consultant at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen to team up with an engineering company CR Clarke & Co in Ammanford to design the Covid Emergency Ventilator for people suffering from coronavirus, which was given the go-ahead by the Welsh Government.  The machine helps patients to breathe and also cleans a room of viral particles, ensuring that patients are only supplied with purified air.

This device is being used in hospitals in Wales and several other countries. Dr Thomas has also developed a ‘virtual ward’ strategy to enable patients to avoid going into hospital by using new software and his CPAP device at home.

Rhys Thomas + Lowri

Dr Rhys Thomas is also the co-founder of Air Ambulance Wales. On receiving the award, he commented:

It's a huge honour and privilege to be here today because I was born and bred in Carmarthenshire and to be given this award back by Carmarthenshire is incredible really -  it’s a nice circle.  Today is not just about remembering some of the things I’ve done in the past but actually what we can do together in the future. 

I'd also like to congratulate you all here today, you are already a success, and you are about to make the rest of your lives a success as well. The key cornerstone of success is education and you have already got a great foundation.

My words of advice to you are taken from others that inspired me during my life. I’d like to say thank you today to my parents - thank you very much to you both for teaching me about love because without that you cannot do anything.

When I look back on my life it now makes sense but going forward at the time it did not always make sense. I promise you that l was questioned why I did certain things, but I followed my heart which is what you will have to do. Follow your heart and never give up.

Presenting Dr Rhys Thomas to the congregation was Dr Lowri Lloyd, Director of the University's Centre for Welsh Language Services.  She added:

“We are honouring here today what can only be described as a pioneer.  Rhys’ military work, serving in such difficult places, witnessing some incomprehensible scenes has surely contributed to the humanitarianism which drives him forward.

Serving Wales and saving lives – the Air Ambulance’s strapline – which is also so very apt for you Rhys.

The desire to care and make others better - Mission, vision, invention.  Words which encapsulate the contribution thus far in the career of Dr Rhys Thomas – and I have a feeling that he’s only just begun.”

Further Information

For more information please contact Arwel Lloyd, Principal PR and Communications Officer, on 01267 676663 / arwel.lloyd@uwtsd.ac.uk