‘The News never gave up its Arctic campaign, and that’s why we won’

VICTORY Cdr Eddie Grenfell with his Arctic Star and inset, some of the related front pages over recent years
VICTORY Cdr Eddie Grenfell with his Arctic Star and inset, some of the related front pages over recent years
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THE battle for recognition for Arctic Convoy heroes is one that has played across the pages of The News for years.

After years of campaigning, the hard work of many veterans and supporters finally paid off just a few weeks ago when the survivors received the Arctic Star.

Today, as part of Local Newspaper Week, those involved with the campaign have praised this newspaper’s involvement in the fight for justice.

Trudie Grenfell, the daughter of Commander Eddie Grenfell, who led the campaign, said: ‘It would never have happened without The News.

‘For years dad was given an office at The News Centre which helped immensely.

‘The most remarkable thing is that the newspaper never gave up, but kept the campaign going from beginning to end.

‘My dad never gave up, and neither did The News, and that’s why we won it.’

Since Cdr Grenfell was elected leader of the campaign in 1997, The News has been there behind him.

But it was in 2004, when we started the Last Chance for Justice, things shifted up a gear.

From then on, highlights included a 45,000-signature petition, the march of hundreds of protesters on Whitehall, and getting the backing of 429 MPs from all parties in Parliament.

In 2006, ministers bowed to pressure and agreed to create a new Arctic Emblem, which was designed to be worn on another medal.

That same year, this newspaper was named campaigning newspaper of the year by The Newspaper Society for its efforts.

The chairman of the judges, associate editor of The Times Brian MacArthur, said at the time: ‘It’s a powerful reminder that newspapers are about news, campaigns and investigations rather than celebrity-obsessed trivia.’

But the campaigning was far from over, as The News continued to put pressure on those in power, question them at every U-turn and challenge their stubbornness when refusing to strike a new medal.

Persistence on behalf of Cdr Grenfell and his colleagues paid off when, in December last year, Prime Minister David Cameron announced the decision to award the Arctic Star.

Mike Hancock, the MP for Portsmouth South, said: ‘I think the News campaign was essential.

‘Too many newspapers play fast and loose with campaigns but The News stuck by this the whole time.’

The first group of surviving veterans who fought in the gruelling Arctic Convoys received their medals earlier this year, but it was sadly too late for many who died while the campaign was fought.

Mark Waldron, the editor of The News, said: ‘Sometimes the role of a local newspaper is not just to identify a problem, but to help solve it as well.

‘We stood shoulder to shoulder with Eddie Grenfell, and there were many times where it seemed victory would never come.

‘But Eddie never gave up, and we supported him wherever we could until the campaign was won.’