Dave’s army days are done but he’s still happy to serve

LE­GION CHAIR­MAN UP FOR AWARD

Nottingham Post - - NEWS - By PHOEBE RAM

ARMY vet­eran David Thomas served his coun­try for 24 years and even though he is now on loan to civvy street, he has never stopped sup­port­ing the armed forces.

The Best­wood Vil­lage res­i­dent (pic­tured), who served with the Royal Reg­i­ment of Ar­tillery is, up for a Not­ting­ham Post He­roes Award in the Armed Forces cat­e­gory.

The 59-year-old joined the army as a boy sol­dier in 1976 straight from school and was first posted to Ger­many in 1977. He has also served in North­ern Ire­land, Canada, Kosovo and Kuwait dur­ing the First Gulf War, where he com­manded a gun de­tach­ment.

In 2000, he left the army, re­turned to his home town of Not­ting­ham and went on to be­come sec­re­tary of the Royal Ar­tillery As­so­ci­a­tion, which meets monthly. He is also the Mid­lands re­gion rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Royal Ar­tillery As­so­ci­a­tion’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

As well as work­ing as a waste and re­cy­cling of­fi­cer for Rush­cliffe Bor­ough Coun­cil, he has re­cently taken over as chair­man of the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion branch in West Bridg­ford, and has been busy work­ing on the 2018 Poppy Ap­peal.

He said: “The le­gion needed a bit of a re­vival dur­ing this centenary year, with a big push for new mem­bers at branch level, which are its lifeblood, to keep the very im­por­tant work of this fan­tas­tic char­ity go­ing.”

Mr Thomas also set up the Armed Forces & Vet­er­ans’ Break­fast Club in the Not­ting­ham and Rush­cliffe area and it re­cently cel­e­brated its first an­niver­sary.

“Not­ting­ham didn’t have [a break­fast club] so it was the right thing to do,” he said.

“It is there for any­one who wants to come along, pull up a sand­bag, chat and en­joy the ban­ter. It also serves the pur­pose of sign­post­ing vet­er­ans to or­gan­i­sa­tions which can pro­vide sup­port should it be needed.

“You can serve 15, 20 years and even if you haven’t spo­ken to or seen an old com­rade in a while, when you meet up the un­der­stand­ing is still there. It’s like you’ve never been apart.”

Re­act­ing to his nom­i­na­tion, he said: “I’m so sur­prised but it’s nice to be recog­nised. Thank you to who­ever nom­i­nated me. It’s just about look­ing after other peo­ple.”

Ralph Brom­head met Mr Thomas at Ride To The Wall, a yearly mo­tor­cy­cle ride for cur­rent and ex-armed forces as well as other bik­ers, to the Na­tional Me­mo­rial Ar­bore­tum in Al­re­was, Stafford­shire.

The 60-year-old from Nuthall said: “He’s a quiet bloke, doesn’t shout from the rooftops. But he does so much with­out be­ing asked.”

Mr Brom­head said that Mr Thomas vol­un­tar­ily or­gan­ised many other events and trips.

“He took a group to the Menin Gate Me­mo­rial at Ypres, in Bel­gium, and he or­gan­ises a pil­grim­age to the Na­tional Me­mo­rial Ar­bore­tum ev­ery year. He’s spent a life­time serv­ing his coun­try, putting him­self at risk and he is still do­ing so much to help the forces.”

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