Rhys Tucker was the Paramedic/First Responder of the Year at the South Wales Argus Health & Care Awards 2019. Sue Bradley discovers how his determination to help others continues even when he’s off duty.

SEEING people in distress is all part of the job for emergency ambulance technician Rhys Tucker, but one callout particularly stuck in his mind and inspired his ongoing mission to help the homeless in Newport.

Mr Tucker felt compelled to act after going to the aid of a man whose tent had been set alight. Within a few days he had organised a collection and replaced all the possessions that had been lost.


This year the 35-year-old member of the Welsh Ambulance Service has launched an appeal for shoeboxes filled with gifts such as toiletries and sweets to brighten the Christmases of homeless people.

Mr Tucker has already received a large number of donations and has started using the hall belonging to St Julian’s Methodist Church for storage after running out of space in the dining room at the home he shares with partner Melanie Seabrook, who helped him to come up with the idea.

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Rhys Taylor (L) collects his Paramedic award from Darron Dupre at the South Wales Argus Health and Care awards at Chepstow Racecourse. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

The couple are thrilled with the generosity they’ve witnessed but determined to carry on collecting up until the Saturday, December 12 cut-off date, which gives them enough time to isolate everything in line with coronavirus guidance and then deliver it to people for whom it will make a world of difference.

“Christmas is seen as a time for joy and celebration, when people are with their family and friends, but for homeless people it can be one of the hardest and loneliest periods of the year,” explains Mr Tucker, who is also a Freemason in the province of Monmouthshire.

“This has been a rubbish year for everybody and Mel and I thought we would try and help somebody have a bit of happiness, even if it’s just for a day.”

Mr Tucker, who lives in Newport, says he feels an affinity with the homeless because he’s found himself on hard times in the past.

“Fortunately, I was never on the streets, but you’re only one bad decision away from losing your job, relationship and home, and being in the exact same position,” he explains.

Mr Tucker’s efforts to support Newport’s homeless community together with his quick-thinking actions to help people in distress on Newport’s Town Bridge led him to collect the Paramedic/First Responder of the Year accolade at the South Wales Argus Health & Care Awards in 2019.

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Rhys Tucker

His nomination listed four occasions when his conversations with desperate individuals had kept them out of the water. On one occasion, he held onto a man who was about to jump until more help became available. Since the awards he’s helped save a further two lives at the bridge.

“Because I’m with the ambulance service, people will talk to someone like me about how they’re feeling and I’ve been able to help them access the appropriate care,” he explains.

Mr Tucker has worked on emergency ambulances for 10 years, although as the son of a paramedic he’s been well aware of life on the frontline for much of his life.

“My dad Terry Tucker was a paramedic for 17 years,” says Mr Tucker, who was born in Risca. “Life on emergency ambulances is all I know. In this line of work you’re never truly off duty. I could never not help someone.”

Mr Tucker started his career with the South and East Coast Service, based in Surrey, Sussex and Kent, before returning to Wales in 2017. He qualified as a technician in 2015.

If you can help by donating empty shoeboxes and supplies, email Rhys.Tucker@wales.nhs.uk

  • There are just a few days left to make a nomination in the South Wales Argus Health and Care Awards 2020 - entries close at 5pm on Sunday, November 22. To make a nomination visit newsquestevents.co.uk/swa-health-care-awards/

The Army joins us in saluting our health and care heroes

THE British Army is sponsoring the Paramedic or First Responder of the Year category at the South Wales Argus Health and Care Awards.

The British Army protects the United Kingdom’s interests at home and abroad, providing a safe and secure environment in which all British citizens can live and prosper.

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Wherever you find the Army, you’ll find our medics. They care for the sick and injured, looking after the health of our soldiers – and others who need it too.

From combat to veterinary officers, radiographers to mental health nurses, they specialise in all kinds of areas, all over the world.

The Army is proud to be supporting the Paramedic or First Responder of the Year category at the South Wales Argus Health and Care Awards 2020 as they recognise first-hand the hard work of our emergency services teams.

“We know first-hand there is so much outstanding work across the health sector and we believe it’s important to recognise the achievements of the people who work so hard to make it happen,” says Major Harrison of the Royal Logistic Corps.

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From assisting the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust by providing Ambulance Drivers and Decontamination Teams in support of the pandemic to building the Dragon’s Heart Field Hospital at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, to distribution of PPE via Cardiff International Airport and deployment of the Covid mobile testing team, the Army supports and recognises the outstanding work across the health sector.

To find out more about the Army in Wales visit: https://britishar.my/argusawards or search ‘Army in Wales’.

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