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Veterans' campaigner invited to Parliament
5:57pm Wednesday 26th February 2014 in News
A VETERANS' campaigner from Pensnett, who funded the country's first Arctic Convoys memorial out of her own pocket, was invited to Parliament for a commemorative event.
Dudley MP Ian Austin invited 85-year-old Phyllis Coyle and her family to a screening of the documentary Hurricanes to Murmansk - about the first Arctic Convoy despatched in August 1941 after the German invasion of Russia.
Mrs Coyle's invitation to the event, held at Portcullis House on Monday (February 24), follows her tireless campaign for a national memorial and medal for Convoys veterans like her late husband Mick who endured what Winston Churchill described as “the worst journey in the world”.
She described the visit as a "moving" affair and told the News: "It was lovely - I just wish Miick had been there."
Labour MP Mr Austin, who also ensured Mrs Coyle was also treated to a tour of the Palace of Westminster, said: “It was a privilege to be able to invite Phyllis and her family to this commemoration of the Arctic Convoys in Parliament.
“Phyllis Coyle is a lovely lady who has done a lot of work for Dudley and for Convoys veterans - and it’s thanks to her that we now have lasting memorials to the men who braved perilous seas, freezing temperatures and German u-boats to keep vital supply lines open."
He said he was also "proud" to have known former Stourbridge Royal Naval Association president Mick Coyle, who survived his stint on HMS Bulldog but made his duty to remember the 3,000 seamen who lost their lives on the Arctic Convoys between 1941 and 1945.
After his death in 2010, gutsy great-grandmother Mrs Coyle set about granting his final wish for an official UK memorial to those who died on the 'Russian Run'.
She and daughter Jennifer Pickin, from Brierley Hill, used their savings to fund Britain’s first Arctic convoys memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire, which was unveiled in August 2012.
Just over a year later - in October 2013 - Mrs Coyle also received a new campaign medal acknowledging her husband's wartime bravery after Prime Minister David Cameron approved the creation of a new accolade for Convoys veterans.