A CAMPAIGNER for disabled people's rights was recognised this week for decades of commitment and charity work as he received the British Empire Medal (BEM) in a ceremony at Newport's Civic Centre.

Trevor Palmer has worked tirelessly to improve the independence and rights of people, at home and abroad, living with disabilities since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1994.

Mr Palmer was awarded the BEM in the Queen's birthday honours earlier this year, and on Tuesday (November 6) he was presented with his medal by the lord-lieutenant of Gwent, Brigadier Robert Aitken.

In front of Mr Palmer's family and friends, who filled the mayor's parlour, the lord-lieutenant said to Mr Palmer: "It is a huge privilege and an honour to award you this medal on Her Majesty’s behalf.

"I am sorry it has taken the system so long to give you an award you richly deserve.

"It is a fantastic achievement. I’m so pleased you will have the letters BEM after your name, and on behalf of the Queen I offer my sincere congratulations."

After receiving the award, Mr Palmer said: "I feel quite honoured to be recognised in this way".

He said that he hadn't undertaken his achievements with the goal of getting a medal.

"I hope this will open more doors for me to be pro-active," he added.

Mr Palmer is a former designer of handbags and pet accessories, and in his early career travelled extensively on voluntary assignments for the British Executive Service Overseas (BESO).

A few years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he turned his attention to designing equipment for wheelchair users, and became involved in disability issues.

READ MORE: First Person – Designer turned disability worker and BEM recipient

Mr Palmer currently serves as a director of Disability Wales, and owns a Newport-based company, GL100 Services. His past appointments include advisory role to the Welsh Government while the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 was being drafted, and a position on the advisory group during the construction of the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

His overseas charitable work includes projects with ResponsABLE Assistance, an organisation which sends mobility equipment such as wheelchairs to poorer countries and to communities affected by natural disasters.

Mr Palmer remains a committed advocate for disability rights in Wales, and recently spoke to the South Wales Argus about the everyday challenges people living with disabilities face, ranging from institutional failures to simple problems such as being able to go to the local shop to buy a pint of milk.

The solution, he argued, was for local authorities and social care providers to increase their collaboration with the disabled people who use their services.

READ MORE: Disability campaigner Trevor Palmer encourages co-production in social care services

He believes this will not only improve the quality of those services but also make people with disabilities feel more valued.

Speaking to Mr Palmer at the BEM ceremony, Newport's mayor, Cllr Malcolm Linton, said: "You are a shining example of leading from the forefront.

"Well done and congratulations, this is well deserved."