elsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas donned a kilt as he collected an award at a gala bash in Scotland’s capital city.
The former Wales and British and Irish Lions internationalist was named the Postcode Hero at the annual People’s Postcode Lottery Charity Gala, which took place in Edinburgh.
As well as his award, he also received a cheque for £250,000 on behalf of Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity.
He said: “I am ecstatic to have received this year’s Postcode Hero award and to be presented with a cheque on behalf of Terrence Higgins Trust for £250,000 is phenomenal.”
Thomas was the first openly gay rugby player when he came out in 2009. A decade later, in 2019, he revealed he had been diagnosed with HIV.
Since then he has campaigned against the stigma surrounding the disease and has also worked to tackle homophobia in sport.
Speaking as he received his award in a ceremony at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, he said: “I am an openly gay man and openly live with HIV and I am passionate about campaigning for both, but I will stand up for anyone who is facing any type of discrimination.
“Some people might think that shows courage, but I don’t see it that way. It is just the right and just thing to do and I will always be an ally for those that need it the most.”
Clara Govier, managing director of People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “The annual Postcode Hero award is designed to highlight the achievements of truly extraordinary individuals who share our vision of a fairer, healthier, greener world and who are working to make it a reality.
“By playing and winning together, our four million players across Britain are raising vital funds for a wide range of charities and changing lives for the better.”
Ian Green, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “It’s brilliant to see Gareth honoured as this year’s Postcode Hero in recognition of all he’s done and continues to do to update public perceptions of what it means to live with HIV today.
“We’re incredibly grateful to both Gareth and the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for this funding, which will help ensure our continued support for people living with and affected by HIV and to challenge the stigma still surrounding the virus.
“We’ve come a long way in the fight against HIV over the last 40 years – but it’s not over.”