Thom James

I’m Thom, originally from Marloes and now live in Milford Haven with wife Stacey and children, Evie, 6 and Sam, 2 as well as two scruffy mutts, Murphy & Paddy.

I work in the fantastic and famous town of Tenby, a real hub of goings on in West Wales. I work for FBM Holidays, a holiday letting agency and part of the FBM group. I look after the marketing so am involved in a lot of the promotional activity that helps us care for 300+ holiday home owners in the West Wales region and in turn, brings around 60,000 visitors to the counties of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire each year.

Despite being a local agency, I’ve been fortunate to travel extensively with my role, as this allows FBM Holidays to look at what the rest of the world is doing in the travel industry and in regards to technology that helps us promote West Wales as a prime destination for holidaymakers.

Working in such a beautiful part of the world is also a major plus. I’m encouraged on a daily basis to get out from behind my desk and take in the sights, sounds, fresh air and get some sand in between my toes.

Things that make me smile

Growing up in Marloes, and close to Dale peninsula and Pembrokeshire in general, your first love of the outdoors tends to be centred around the sea. My family were in farming so this meant a lot time was spent outdoors. I work now in a busy tourism industry role in Tenby, which is really rewarding.

Exploring the Pembrokeshire coast


The thing that makes me most happy these days however, is my family and spending time with them. Whatever we get up to in our lives, whether it’s going for beach walks or out for the day, they are the reason you do anything; to be able to spend those moments with them.

Symptoms and triggers of decreased mental/physical health

I’m very lucky to be able to consider myself thus far untroubled by any mental health issues but I have in the past suffered, as I’m sure most people have, with stress and anxiety, generated mostly from work.

In a previous role to my current job, when things are not doing well within the business, a lot of the stress and pressures that other people were feeling were very much passed on, and there was also a horrible blame culture. There are two ways you can go with this then; you’re either someone who doesn’t care and checks out at ‘clocking off’ time or you’re someone that wants to help and do better.

I’ve always wanted to be someone that works to do better, but this then leads to an absorption of the negativity that is going around.

I’ve been lucky to have good support systems through my life, through family, friends and now a family of my own and my wife who is extremely supportive, and this for me keeps me very centred, staving off any real jeopardy in terms of my mental state.

The tough period is when you get to that tipping point, and the realisation of all the things you are going through. Only you can make you want to ‘get better’. Other people can tell you what they can see, but they can’t make you act.

Thom and his wife Stacey

Managing my wellbeing

Working less and having a supportive management team around has really helped. Work-life balance is very important and I have this currently – and I am also made to feel like I have this which is something that was not on the table for me previously.

I’ve never had a busier role in regards to importance or standing, than the one I am in now, but I feel fortunate to be afforded the perspective and understanding of personal time by my superiors.

We still have pressures; we set targets and work within boundaries and we expect to get to reach these milestones, but what is nice in my current role is that we do all these things together; our successes and failures are collective, and if we do come up short, we work as a team to put things right.

Thom James and Tim Brace, FBM Holidays


And in my spare time – time which I feel I am now afforded more of – I place a lot of importance of the outdoors as a means of disconnecting from the modern world.

For me, getting out, going to the beach, going walking is very therapeutic, and the more simplistic something is, the more I think it helps to heal.

Walking is just one foot in front of the other, as I am constantly told. There’s nothing more simple than that, so by it’s very essence, it allows you the headspace to think about other things and give yourself some clarity, and not pile up these thoughts.

Finally, talking to people helps. Don’t get me wrong. I am by no means perfect and I could be a lot better than I am. This is something I need to work on and develop. But I know if I need to, I can turn to a variety of people to talk my worries through.

Finding support

I think we’re incredibly fortunate these days to live in a society where, for the most part, there is a lack of stigma and a real understanding of issues surrounding wider mental health.

Whilst there are people who will still struggle, it’s the best time to be able to find and get help, and I would like to think that with all the help out there, agencies and organisations, as well as the strong support systems I feel I would have, that I would know where to seek help from.

Things I feel are essential to sustain a positive level of wellbeing

Happy home life – happy life in general. Sometimes I can lose sight of this and I notice how it impacts on me and my family when I do. The most important thing for me in my life is to make sure my family are happy and provided for, and this helps me greatly.

Laugh every day – make time to make yourself, and more importantly, someone else smile.

Getting outdoors and out of the house as much as possible – Either enjoy nature or socialising with family and friends more often.

Travel, or at least plan future travels – try new things and experience more places and cultures.

Many thanks to Thom for taking the time to share his personal experience about physical and mental health with the West Wales community. We hope these stories will provide you with food for thought and inspiration to take positive action for your own wellbeing.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in The Smile Files interviews please click below for mental health support services in the UK and Wales

About The Smile Files

It’s a common misconception that those living a ‘happy life’ have been rewarded in some way. A large section of society experiences some form of physical or mental health challenge during their lifetime and we are keen to show our readers (via interviews with individuals and business leaders), that we ALL have the ability to manage and improve our wellbeing, through choices about how we think and the things we do.

We hope these stories provide food for thought and inspiration to instigate positive action in your own life.

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