From tough start in Grantham children’s home to military success

Sgt Gareth Thomas with his High Sheriff of Essex Award.

Sgt Gareth Thomas with his High Sheriff of Essex Award.

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An army sergeant who grew up in the care system in Grantham has been honoured for his exemplary military service.

Sgt Gareth Thomas has received the High Sheriff of Essex Award, and no-one is prouder of this achievement than his big brother Mick, who highlighted how it comes after a tough upbringing.

Explaining how they were taken from their parents under a care order when Gareth was just four years old, Mick said: “Our life began in the care system; foster homes, children’s homes, then we settled at the local children’s home Sandon Lodge.

“Life was hard, tough, a constant battle. We were bullied, picked on, fighting everyday for years. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been for my baby brother. To survive all that, plus his military tours and accomplishments, just wow. From that beginning to this; what a man, what a fighter, what a brother.”

Knowing since he was little that he wanted to be a soldier, Gareth joined the army as soon as he turned 16, and has since served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Ireland and Cyprus. As a member of the Military Provost Staff since April 2010, he has specialised in providing captured persons training to troops, including out in Malawi last year.

On his return after three and a half months, and just days after getting engaged to be married, Gareth was then immediately deployed to Canada to run the custody facility at the British Army Training Unit Suffield.

He now works at the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester, while Mick still lives nearby in Croxton Kerrial and is an Army Reservist. While he is full of praise for his brother, Gareth does not like to shout about his achievements. He said: “They say the award is for those who have gone above and beyond, but I wasn’t expecting it.”