Citizenship Awards 2024

Ian Cardy


Cllr. Mrs Jan Lockyer and Ian Cardy
Pictured - Cllr. Mrs Jan Lockyer & Ian Cardy


Nominated by Cllr. Mrs Jan Lockyer

Martial arts classes have been delivered by volunteers in YMCA Neath for over 40 years. Six evenings every week, 4 disciplines deliver the benefits and skills of martial arts. We are indebted to 10 volunteers that selflessly teach and share the journey with their students. Their sheer dedication to the arts; some of them giving up their evenings for 49 weeks each year; is just simply amazing.

Over the last year alone, our volunteers took over 2,500 participants of all ages through a step by step, well planned journey to one goal after another until they achieved their potential. The instructors give their time tirelessly; some were our students themselves who now pass on their valuable teachings to others.

Their reward is not financial but watching their students flourish and their desire to pass on the beauty of the arts which they firmly regard as a principle for life and a means for personal attainment is payment enough.

They have been instrumental in developing several players to Local and National Champions, although each student with their diverse abilities are all champions; some started just wanting to defend themselves, others wanted to compete, and some just wanted to work out or socialise; but, the learning goes much deeper, the journey of self-discovery and the discipline of when to use it.

In 1959 at the age of 8, Ian’s Mum took him on the bus to the local  Judo Club in Port Talbot.  From then he continued in various clubs in the area up to the age of 19.  Later, whilst attending college in Carmarthen he joined Trinity College Judo Club until he 23joined Newham Judo Club under the late John Ryan (Olympic Coach).  From 1975 to 1985 his training was based in the judo clubs at the YMCA and Afan Lido in Port Talbot.

In 1985 he was asked to take over Neath Judo Club based in Neath YMCA where he remains as Sensei. There, for the last 39 years Ian has given his time on a voluntary basis, his desire to pass on the beauty of his beloved sport which he firmly regards as a principle for life and a means for personal attainment being payment enough.

During this time, before retiring from a career in education, he became Head of Prevocational Studies the ALN (Additional Learning Needs) department of Neath College. Part of his teaching commitment was to facilitate, at the YMCA, a self-defence/martial arts class for students across college. This would invariably consist of mainstream students, some with already advanced skills, some with none, plus some from his own ALN department. Ian thrived in these situations and always marvelled at how those young people with such diverse abilities could work as one. He says it’s the magic of Judo!

Ian has used his sport and its code of ethics throughout his personal life and inspires all those he comes in contact with through it to behave as such…. “with honour”.

The impact on so many people through his work at the YMCA is immeasurable, a responsibility he has not taken lightly as he still strives to continue his own development by achieving his 4th Dan, receiving Life membership of the Welsh Judo Association and currently finalising his training to become a Senior Examiner.

Today, Neath Judo Kwai is a thriving club with Judoka at junior and senior levels enjoying the sport and training to such a standard they are achieving 1st Dan (black belt) status; been asked to train as part of the National squad; have become National Schools Champions. The club is regularly visited by Judoka from other clubs who are very complimentary of the training and the warm welcome they receive. His hope for the future is that the club will continue its success and growth and cement its reputation as being the oldest Judo Club in Neath.

Ian’s hero, Jigoro Kano (founder of Judo) said “The purpose of Judo is to perfect yourself and contribute to society” and this is what Ian practises and teaches.

His own philosophy however, is “Knocked down six times…get up seven!”

Ian Richard Thomas

Pictured - Neath Town Mayor Cllr. John Warman, Ian's wife Juleen Thomas & Cllr. Paul Sambrook



Nominated by Cllr. Paul Sambrook

Ian was a Neath man who had attended Gnoll Primary and Cefn Saeson Comprehensive schools before joining the army. He returned here after leaving the forces and lived with his wife Juleen and daughter Shannon in the Melin.

Until illness restricted his activities, he was active in his local community and a champion of the people who lived there. He stood as an Independent candidate for the Borough Council in Neath East, wishing to be a voice for his community. During the Covid epidemic he helped out with the FAN group in the Melin, collecting groceries and prescriptions for vulnerable people and also trained as a first responder.

He had previously stood for election in Neath East as an Independent candidate, which is when many of us came to know him. But Ian was a proud veteran of the Welsh Guards and had seen active service in Afghanistan during his military career. Even during his illness he was a rock who gave advice and support to fellow ex-servicemen who needed advice or practical advice. He was active in a local support group for ex-Welsh Guardsmen.

His pride in his military service extended to caring for those who had left the services and needed support, locally and beyond. He raised funds for the Care after Combat charity as well as the Welsh Guards Charity.

As a soldier he faced the challenges of active service, but as a veteran he faced another tough battle when he was hit by a debilitating illness in recent years, which deprived him of his health and fitness. Ian fought hard and posted videos of himself beating targets he had set himself to get himself fit again.

He was progressing well and full of optimism and plans for the future when he was unexpectedly taken from us, just days before Christmas and weeks before his 53rd birthday.

This award to a very special person would come just a week after his funeral and we share the grief at his passing felt by his family, friends and comrades. Ian was a credit to our town. Neath is all the poorer without him and he is missed by many.