KEITH Thomas a local role model from Llanelli has been nominated for the Positive Role Model (Disability) at The National Diversity Awards 2020.

The Breathtaking Liverpool Anglican Cathedral will play host to this year’s awards, to be held on 25th September. Britain’s most inspirational and selfless people will come together to honour the rich tapestry of our nation, recognising individuals and groups from grass roots communities.

The prestigious black tie event recognises nominees in their respective fields of diversity including age, disability, gender, race, faith, religion and sexual orientation.

Keith said: “In 2008, after years of illness, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. It was managed for four years via medication until June 2014 when my bowel gave up. A ten hour operation took my bowel away and gave me a stoma for life. From that day I have made it my mission to be positive and show people that there is life after illness. Having taken a full time job as a driver for First Cymru a year later, I have always endeavoured to be welcoming to new drivers and offer help and support to them in any way I can. I take pride in all aspects of my job and I was honoured to have been awarded top driver in Wales by Wales Transport and also took silver in the UK Bus awards in 2019; all made possible by my positive attitude, my awesome work colleagues and my ostomy bag!

“I strive to help other ostomates come to terms with their lives with an ostomy. I know I am lucky that coping with this operation came easily to me, but sadly this is not the case for everyone. I offer support and advice for anyone who might appreciate a chat either in person, over the phone or via email/ social media. Supporting others is so important to me; I have been made a patient Advocate for Respond Healthcare in Cardiff which is very rewarding. I work closely with them to support ostomates around Wales and regularly blog, attend functions and training/ awareness days and model ostomy products in photographs, videos and brochures.

“I have been a charity fundraiser since 2016. Again it was a way of showing appreciation for having my own life and health back as well as getting others involved in various events to do good for others less fortunate. I have raised about £9000 to date for 15 different charities, (last year I did a 12 Charity Challenge raising money for a different charity every month). Prior to that I raised money for Crohn’s and Colitis UK by walking 5km every week for a year, and prior to that I raised £3700 for Marie Curie by posting a different selfie every day for a year on my social media. Naturally I have used every opportunity to show my “hidden disability” is no barrier to what can be achieved. I even managed to walk up Pen Y Fan- the highest peak in South Wales- to get a selfie, even showing my ostomy bag to prove the point! I am privileged to have been nominated for several awards as a result of my fundraising efforts including the Llanelli Star Awards on two occasions, and I was presented with the West Wales Fundraiser of the Year award by Marie Curie in 2017.

“There has been so much negativity recently about social media, but my social media presence is all about giving my followers the best possible experience. I have no time for negative comments or cruel jibes, my posts are all aimed at making every day a positive day. I now have over 3000 followers so I must be doing something right! I use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to spread a bit of joy, laughter – usually at my expense – and also to continue rising awareness of hidden disabilities.
The last seven years have been amazing since I have been given my life back. It is a second chance I am not going to waste and if I can help others along the way, it makes it even better.
Thank you for reading this and sharing in my story.”

ITV News will be working in association with The National Diversity Awards to highlight role models and community organisations on regional and national news channels.

Rachel Corp, Acting Editor, ITV News said; “We are pleased that ITV News will once again be supporting the National Diversity Awards. ITV News remains committed to telling the stories of those, who through their work and dedication to helping others have made a difference; enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion in our society. We look forward to introducing the 2020 nominees to our viewers across the regions and nation.”

The UK’s largest diversity awards has attracted a growing list of supporters including Adam Hills, Graham Norton and Katie Piper. Sir Lenny Henry CBE, last year’s winner of the Celebrity of the Year gong said;

“Diversity to me means involving everybody without any discrimination; its means having integrated groups in society, it means fairness and total inclusion and that’s what the National Diversity Awards are about. Congratulations to everyone who has been nominated, you’re all doing a fantastic job, rock on!”

The National Diversity Awards receives over 28,000 nominations and votes annually. Founder & CEO Paul Sesay said, “As we enter our 09th awards season, The National Diversity Awards prepare to welcome a host of outstanding role models and charities to our family. We look to those who represent progress, spirit and resilience, and I cannot wait to learn about the wonderful work being carried out this year”.

Nominations are now open and close May 18th 2020 – so don’t miss out on your chance to get involved!

Shortlisted nominees will be announced shortly after this date.

To nominate please visit: www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/nominate

Or for a nomination form please email: emma@nationaldiversityawards.co.uk

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