Friday, 24 May 2024

Calls for King Charles to personally deliver new medals to nuclear veterans

Campaigners are calling on the government to urge King Charles to deliver the nuclear test medal to veterans, along with a promise of compensation.

This comes after veterans of Britain’s nuclear test programme are to receive a newly designed medal in time for Remembrance Day.

Campaigning Manchester councillor, Tommy Judge, has written a letter to Veterans Minister, Johnny Mercer, urging consideration. He said: “The newly-minted nuclear test medal is very fine, and we commend the government for finally agreeing to issue it. But frankly it is not enough.”

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Councillor Judge added that veterans’ “invaluable contribution has often come at a terrible price” mentioning rates of death, cancer, infant mortality, and birth defects in children.

Councillor Judge who is also a representative of the Nuclear-Free Local Authorities said: “The test veteran community, and the charities that fight for them, have for many years reported instances of cancer, often repeated, and premature death amongst veterans and many profound disabilities amongst their offspring. Many people believe that this was the result of exposure to radiation in these tests.”

The Mirror reports government officials are believed to be in discussions with Buckingham Palace about arranging a ceremony.

A ceremony was proposed last November on the day the medal was announced but it is thought a formal request has been made only recently.

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The Nuclear Test Medal has been released 70 years after the first test and roughly 22,000 people are eligible to receive the medal.

Downing Street agreed to its creation in November after years of campaigning by veterans and charities.

Around 40,000 British personnel took part in the testing of atomic and hydrogen bombs in the 1950s and 1960s, with roughly 2,000 believed to be still alive.

The medal, however, can be awarded posthumously to a veteran’s legal next of kin.

The release of the design follows a years’-long fight for recognition by veterans and their families, who said exposure to nuclear tests had caused illnesses among thousands of people who took part, as well as causing health problems for their families.

Downing Street said the medal commemorated contributions by members of the armed forces, scientists and local employees from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Kiribati.

The design features an atom surrounded by olive branches and bears the words “Nuclear Test Medal” and the image of King Charles.

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