YOUNGSTERS who spent Christmas without their parents after they were called to respond to a humanitarian crisis have been recognised with their own miniature medals.
The children of sailors who serve on board HMS Illustrious have been presented with medals to reward them for how well they coped while their mums and dads were deployed for five months.
Specially-crafted miniature medals, displaying the words ‘My Little Hero’, were given to 400 children of HMS Illustrious’ crew.
The Portsmouth-based helicopter carrier sailed to the Gulf last August on a routine deployment, but was then diverted from her planned homecoming due to a devastating typhoon that struck the Philippines.
Lieutenant Commander Neil Scott, from Southsea, was one of the many parents to present these medals.
He said: ‘Having served for almost 22 years in the Royal Navy and as a father of two young children I am acutely aware of the effects separation can have on families at home while their loved ones are deployed on operations.
‘On return from our extended operational tasking in the Philippines, which meant we were away for Christmas, the medals took on even more meaning to the sailors on board.’
The medals, which were sold, raised more than £1,000 and the cash was donated to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.
The medals were a big hit with Lt Cdr Scott’s children Kenzie, six, and Lydia, three.
Kenzie said: ‘I like the medal because it makes me feel special.
‘I keep it in a special place.’
HMS Daring, another Portsmouth-based ship, was the first to be diverted to provide humanitarian aid after the typhoon struck.
HMS Illustrious arrived shortly afterwards and relieved the Type 45 destroyer.
Lusty returned to Portsmouth to a heroes’ welcome in January and was met with praise from families, politicians, and the naval community.