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‘Truly appreciated’: Salford & Eccles MP Hazel Blears ‘privileged’ to honour war heroes in Veterans’ Badge ceremony

By Dominic Claeys-Jackson

War heroes across Salford have been honoured with ‘Veterans’ Badges’, in a ceremony held by Labour MP Hazel Blears.

Nine ex-service personnel were awarded the accolade by the Salford and Eccles MP, at Pendleton Royal British Legion in Langworthy.

The badge recognises veterans who have served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, including Volunteer and Regular Reserves.

Ms Blears said: “It was a privilege to present these brave ex-servicemen with Veterans’ Badges.

“Since the badge was introduced in 2004 it has helped to secure deserved recognition for the dedicated service our ex-forces personnel have given to their country.

“Some have put their lives on the line for the greater good and acknowledging their service is the least we can do as a society.”

Three war heroes were conferred the honour in person, whilst six others were unable to attend last Friday’s ceremony.

Badges were presented to Albert Morris, from Pendlebury, Frank Pritchard, from Swinton, and Ms Blears’ own brother, Stephen.

Mr Morris, 77, served in the 11th Hussars regiment from 1954-57, including in Malaya, where he came up against Communist terrorists.

He said: “The badge is an excellent idea because I think more should be done to recognise veterans.

“You come out of the Army and people do not want to know – it’s not like that in the United States.”

Mr Pritchard, 73, served in the Manchester Regiment and the King’s Manchester and Liverpool Regiment from 1958-61.

During his time in the forces, he was posted to the likes of India, Yemen and Bahrain.

“I think I deserve this badge and it’s something to remember things by, a bit of nostalgia,” he said.

“I’ve not heard of other badge ceremonies like the one here in Salford and Eccles but I think it’s a very good idea.”

The ceremony was also attended by Swinton author Neil Blower, a former soldier turned war novelist.

After serving in Kosovo and Iraq, Blower wrote ‘Shell Shock: The Diary of Tommy Atkins’, which has garnered the interest of film producers.

Blower said that the annual event is a ‘fantastic occasion’.

 “It is important that people who have served this country are recognised and it is great that Hazel Blears is marking the sacrifice they have made,” he said.

“The ceremony is also a good opportunity to meet other veterans in the local community.”

Stephen Blears served as a welder in Germany, Northern Ireland and the Falklands for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

Ms Blears said that it was ‘really special’ to present her brother with the badge, but the work of all those in the armed forces was ‘truly appreciated’.

“I would like to thank all the veterans who attended the ceremony for their important contributions to our forces,” she said.

Any veteran who would like to apply for a badge, or is interested in attending next year’s ceremony, should contact Ms Blears’ office on 0161 925 0705.

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