Posted: Wed 8th Jun 2016

Widow of Connah’s Quay soldier killed in Falklands war launches campaign to end pension injustice

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 8th, 2016

The family of a Connah’s Quay soldier killed in the Falklands War has launched a campaign calling for all war widows to receive a pension for life

The heart-felt appeal for justice for war widows comes 34 years to the day they lost their husband and father.

Sgt Malcolm Wigley of the Welsh Guards was killed when Argentinian forces struck the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Sir Galahad on June 8 1982 during the Falklands war.

From Connah’s Quay, he was just 31 years old and left behind widow Kath and their son Bryan, who was only four at the time.

Twenty years ago Kath found love again and married Dave Webster, and under arbitrary UK Government rules had to surrender her war widows pension.

Carl Sargeant AM Kath Webster

After a highly successful campaign by the War Widows Association of Great Britain, from April 1 2015 war widow pensions were awarded for life, but this rule only applies going forward.

Call to end the injustice.

Now Kath and Bryan have joined up with Alyn and Deeside Assembly Member Carl Sargeant to call on the UK Government to end the injustice and give equal rights to all war widows to receive the pension for life.

“It is unfair when you think that wives who lose their husbands now have the money and we can’t have it,” said Kath.

“I’m not asking for back-pay for the last 20 years I just want the money from when the other wives are getting it.

Even if you marry again you’re still a widow. A widow of someone who worked at the steelworks wouldn’t lose their pension if they remarried – it should work the same.”

Bryan Wigley said:

“The war widow’s pension is basically compensation for the loss of a spouse and for the pain, anger confusion, and all other emotions that are felt about losing a loved one. It’s not just after the event, it’s still here now 34 years on – the pain doesn’t go away, especially at this time of year.

“My mum has basically been penalised and had her pension revoked because she was lucky enough to find someone to spend the rest of her life with, after her husband gave his life for this country and the safety of the Falkland Islands and islanders.”

In England the campaign has been brought to prominence by Susan Rimmer. Kath, Bryan and Carl Sargeant want to start the Welsh campaign for justice and have launched a petition and appealed for other local widows affected to come forward.

Carl Sargeant said:

“We believe there are about 300 women in Kath’s position all over the UK. Life as an armed forces spouse is not always easy and to be a war widow is incredibly hard.

As Kath and Bryan have shown, the pain and suffering of losing a loved one in conflict stays with the family even if they remarry.

These widows’ contribution to our country deserves our thanks for the rest of their lives, not just until they remarry.

“That’s why I’ve written to the UK Government urging them to afford the same rights to all war widows and have started a petition calling for the changes.”

The petition is available to sign at here or a paper copy can be signed at Carl Sargeant’s office at 70 High Street, Connah’s Quay.

Any other war widows affected locally can contact the office at 01244 823547 or email carl.sargeant@assembly.wales

Bryan added: “If anyone is out there reading this we need you to join the cause. With the backing of Carl and of the general public standing up for us and signing the petition we can take the fight further.”

Th MOD told the BBC:

“We listened to campaigners and changed the pension scheme rules to allow survivors’ pensions to be paid for life for those who re-married or cohabited on or after 1 April 2015.

It is the long standing principle, adopted by successive governments, against making retrospective changes to schemes in order that they remain manageable and affordable for the taxpayer.”

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