Published: 12:39, 07 April 2021
| Updated: 12:42, 07 April 2021
A veteran socialist and former Labour group leader has written to Prince Charles to get frontline workers recognition for their pandemic efforts.
Paul Harriott, ex-leader of Gillingham Council and mayor of the town, is pleading with the heir to the throne to award those who have served throughout the national emergency with special medals.
The Korean War veteran and Chatham Dockyard worker, who lives in Twydall with wife – former Labour Medway councillor Dorte Gilry – is still awaiting a response.
But he hopes the prince, who contracted Covid-19 and has been immensely sympathetic to the “costly sacrifices” made by health workers, will reply.
Mr Harriott is a great admirer of Aneurin Bevan, the former Labour health minister who launched the NHS in July 1948.
The Labour HQ he set up near his home in Twydall Lane is named after the politician.
The 88-year-old wrote to the prince in November to “kickstart” his campaign asking for “lasting recognition” to those who have worked to fight the virus and to those who lost their lives.
He wrote: “The fight against Covid-19 by staff of the NHS and thousands of civilian workers in care homes and the supply chain is a credit to the nation.
“His Royal Highness will be aware of the many examples of royal intervention in recognising the courage of individuals. Queen Victoria created the Victoria Cross, the highest award for valour for the armed forces. King George VI created the George Cross, the highest award for British citizens.
“May I respectfully make a bold suggestion to consider the creation of a new medal called the Community Service Medal for those who have served on the frontline during this pandemic? Also in special cases a posthumous Community Service Cross could be awarded to individuals who have died on duty serving the community.
“I still recall my own personal experience during National Service with the Royal Engineers during the Korean War from 1952 to 1954.
“My fear, albeit the enemy was known to us, would be no different to those serving the community today during this pandemic.
“The fear by frontline medical staff defending their community and the country is the same.
“Your Royal Highness over many years has maintained a high profile in your work on behalf of the community and environment.
“The whole nation recognises your contribution in trying to achieve the aim of making the world a better place for all of us to live in.”