A CAMPAIGNER who dedicated nearly 30 years to immortalising the names of Portsmouth’s Second World War dead has been invited to Buckingham Palace.
Jean Louth, 84, will enjoy a tea party at Her Majesty the Queen’s residence in London tomorrow – after being nominated to attend by Portsmouth City Council leader, Donna Jones.
The invitation follows 27 years in which Mrs Louth pushed to fund a memorial remembering everyone from Portsmouth who died during the Second World War – including army personnel and civilians.
After a long-fought campaign, the memorial now stands in Guildhall Square and features the names of some 3,436 armed forces personnel – including that of Mrs Louth’s own father, Harry Short – who was killed in Dunkirk.
With a day until she descends on the capital, Mrs Louth, from Eastney, said she is ‘honoured’ to have received an invitation.
She said: ‘I’m extremely excited to go to the palace – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m eager to see who else is there.
‘My invitation actually arrived by post on a day when both my daughters were round.
‘I opened it and it said I was allowed to take one person along with me – so I joked and told them they could fight among themselves.
‘But in the end we decided my youngest, Janette, will drive us up there and my eldest, Jackie, will come to the party with me.
‘We’re all really excited and they’re coming round first thing tomorrow to make sure my outfit and face is in order.’
Despite the lengthy battle to see the Second World War memorial come to fruition, Mrs Louth said the gesture simply ‘had to be done’.
She said: ‘It was certainly a mission.
‘We view a city like Portsmouth as a naval town, but there were several army barracks here during the Second World War – my brother was actually born in the barracks hospital at Hilsea.
‘I’m proud to say this will stand long after I’m gone and all those people from those places will be remembered.’
Mrs Louth’s eldest daughter, Jackie Frith, 61, said: ‘I’m so proud of my mum – we all are.
‘She has never driven and she has never had a computer – she uses an old typewriter – so she has really had to work to make this happen. We can’t wait to join her.’