Randolph Thomas

Alfred James Randolph Thomas is Chair of Council at University of Wales Trinity Saint David. He is a priest of the Church in Wales and a former Archdeacon of Brecon.

Thomas attended Llanelli Grammar School, before going up to St David’s College, Lampeter. He was ordained deacon in 1971 and priest in 1972. Two years later he married Jean Mary Gravell. They went on to have three sons, Simon, Stuart and Mathew. Sadly, Jean died in 2018, aged only sixty-seven. 

Thomas’ entire ministry has been spent in South and Mid-Wales. His first post was as curate in Cydweli. He served a second curacy at St David’s church, Carmarthen, before becoming Team Vicar of Aberystwyth in 1976. In 1981, he was appointed Vicar of Betws cum Ammanford, about fifteen miles north-east of Llanelli. Alongside this, he was Rural Dean of Dyffryn Aman from 1990 to 1993. During his time in Betws and Ammanford, he was already noted for his role in public affairs, particularly housing and education. 

Next, he served as Vicar of St Peter’s Carmarthen, the largest parish church in the diocese of Saint David’s, from 1993 to 2002. His time there saw a major restoration programme. During this, archaeologists located the skull of Sir Richard Steele, the celebrated essayist, dramatist and co-founder of The Tatler, in a casket in the crypt of St Peter’s. Thomas was elected a Canon of St David’s Cathedral in 1996. 

Thomas became Archdeacon of Brecon in 2003. In the Anglican Communion, archdeacons are priests with administrative authority delegated by the bishop. Each is assigned a specific geographical area, known as an archdeaconry. Their duties usually include general disciplinary supervision of the clergy and care of church property. Alongside his work as Archdeacon, Thomas was Vicar of Bronllys with Llanfilo from 2002 until 2006 and then Priest in charge of Llanfrynach and Cantref with Llanhamlach, a few miles south east of Brecon, from 2006 to 2013. Thomas retired in January 2013; he was honoured with the title Archdeacon Emeritus. 

In 1989, Thomas was one of the founders of Cartrefi Cymru, a charity supporting people with additional needs. It aims to ensure that people with learning disabilities, living in the valleys of South Wales and in rural Wales, are able to live in their local communities with the highest quality of support. Originally, Cartrefi Cymru hoped to enabled people to escape from large institutions and be helped to live nearer their family homes. It now provides support for learning disabled people to live as supported tenants of housing associations. 

In 1991, Thomas established St Paul’s Family Centre in Llanelli to provide support for families in the local area. Children and their parents and carers are able to access support through a variety of provisions. The centre aims to ensure that children have a flying start in life, enjoy the best possible health free from abuse and exploitation, and have a comprehensive range of education and learning opportunities. The centre supports all children under sixteen years old, as well as anyone who takes on a ‘parenting role.’  It gives children free access to a wide variety of play activities, runs free accredited courses on parenting skills, and organizes free trips and outings. Its ‘open door’ policy promotes equal opportunities for all families. In a similar field, Thomas established the Ty Ni Family Centre in Carmarthen in the mid 1990s and the St John’s Family Centre in Brecon in 2008. 

Thomas has also chaired the Gwalia Group, a leading provider of housing, care and support services in South and Mid Wales. He has served as a Justice of the Peace, as a non-executive director of Hywel Dda Health Board and as a governor of Christ College Brecon. He was chair of the Church in Wales Safeguarding group until 2013. In 2001, the Queen appointed him a member of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. (This is the chivalric order probably best known for founding and running St John Ambulance.) 

Thomas has been Chairman of Council of University of Wales Trinity Saint David since 2014 and Chair of the University of Wales since 2018. In addition, he was Chair of Universities Wales from 2015 to 2019 and has been Chair of the National Centre for Learning Welsh since 2015. 


Thomas, R. (2021). Randolph Thomas Chairman of Council at University of Wales Trinity Saint David [LinkedIn page]. LinkedIn. Retrieved March 16 2021 from https://www.linkedin.com/in/randolph-thomas-58589763/ 

University of Wales Trinity Saint David. (2021). Governance and management. Retrieved March 16 2021 from https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/governance-management/governance/ 

Tatler essayist’s skull discovered in lead box. (2000, September 26). Guardian. Retrieved March 16 2021 from https://infoweb-newsbank-com.ezproxy.uwtsd.ac.uk/apps/news/document-view?p=UKNB&docref=news/0F28998AD53D7591

Archdeacon. (2013). In Livingstone, E. (ed.)The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church.Retrieved March 16 2021 from https://www-oxfordreference-com.ezproxy.uwtsd.ac.uk/view/10.1093/acref/9780199659623.001.0001/acref-9780199659623-e-370. 

Cartrefi Cymru (2018). Our journey. Retrieved March 16 2021 from https://www.cartrefi.coop/who-we-are/our-journey 

Thomas, the Ven. Alfred James Randolph. In: Crockford’s Clerical Directory (101st ed, 2010-11). London: Church House Publishing 

Dewis Cymru. (2021). St Paul’s Family Centre – Family Support Services. Retrieved March 22 2021 from https://www.dewis.wales/ResourceDirectory/ViewResource.aspx?id=22177  

St Paul’s Family Centre. (2020). Report of the trustees and financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2020 for St Paul’s Family Centre. Retrieved March 22 2021 from https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-search?p_p_id=uk_gov_ccew_onereg_charitydetails_web_portlet_CharityDetailsPortlet&p_p_lifecycle=2&p_p_state=maximized&p_p_mode=view&p_p_resource_id=%2Faccounts-resource&p_p_cacheability=cacheLevelPage&_uk_gov_ccew_onereg_charitydetails_web_portlet_CharityDetailsPortlet_fileName=0001060020_AC_20200331_E_C.pdf&_uk_gov_ccew_onereg_charitydetails_web_portlet_CharityDetailsPortlet_objectiveId=A10403616&_uk_gov_ccew_onereg_charitydetails_web_portlet_CharityDetailsPortlet_priv_r_p_mvcRenderCommandName=%2Ffull-print&_uk_gov_ccew_onereg_charitydetails_web_portlet_CharityDetailsPortlet_priv_r_p_organisationNumber=1060020