A PENARTH man has been presented with the highest distinction in the Lithuanian diplomatic service.

Anthony Packer was presented with the Order of the Diplomatic Star by the Lithuanian Ambassador to the UK Asta Skaisgiryt? Liauškien? on Wednesday, January 8.

Mr Packer, who has served as Honorary Consul for Lithuania in Wales since 2002, forged strong links between universities in Wales and Lithuania as well as organising the visit of Vytautas Landsbergis’, the first post-Soviet President of independent Lithuania, to Wales.

He also edited and helped publish Vytautas Landsbergis’ autobiography ‘Lithuania – Independent Again’

Mr Packer, 74, said he was “humbled” to receive the medal at the Cardiff and the Vale Marie Curie Cancer Care Hospice in Penarth, where he is currently being cared for by staff.

He added that he was very proud to be presented with the award, which he received with all four of his children and five out of eight of his grandchildren present.

“It’s the highest award given in diplomatic service,” he said.

Mr Packer was a lecturer at Cardiff University, when it was known at the University of Wales, from 1975 until he took early retirement in 2001.

During his time at the university he developed close links with Lithuania due to several educational delegations to the country, and in 2002 he was appointed Honorary Consul of Lithuania in Wales, and also became Secretary of the Consular Association in Wales in the same year.

Mr Packer, who has also developed close links between Swansea University and Kanaus University of Technology during his career, said that one of the main reasons for his diplomatic award was for his work to improve the youth service in Lithuania

“We reached an agreement between the two governments that the youth service in Wales would provide training and Lithuania youth service would be modelled on the Welsh youth service,” he said.

He added that he also successfully campaigned for a historical petition signed by more than 17,000 people to be kept in Lithuania after there were plans for it to be exported to an American library.

Mr Packer, who lives across the road from Stanwell School on Salisbury Avenue and has flown a Lithuanian flag outside his house for the last 12 years, said that the Vale Council initially refused him planning permission to fly the flag after he was appointed as Honorary Consul to the country.

“I received a letter back with the heading “unauthorised use of domestic premises as consular,” he said.

He added that he replied that as Lithuania's honorary consul international law overruled local law and that the now “bedraggled” flag was still flying.

Karen Stephens, Hospice Manager at the Cardiff and the Vale Marie Curie Cancer Care Hospice in Penarth, said: “It was an honour to welcome the Lithuanian Ambassador to the Hospice for what was an extremely moving presentation as Mr Packer was decorated with this distinguished award.

“At Marie Curie, we believe that everybody should have access to the care and support they need to achieve the best possible quality of life. We were very pleased to have been able to help make this presentation possible.”