Royal Navy veteran from Portsmouth hails Keir Starmer as 'very friendly' after surprise drinks do with Labour leader

A FALKLANDS veteran who survived the sinking of HMS Sheffield was the guest of honour during a surprise drinks reception with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

By Tom Cotterill
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 3:30 pm

Fratton man Chris Purcell and his wife Louise were invited to meet Sir Keir at a special event in Parliament to mark Armed Forces Day.

Chris, who is a retired Petty Officer with the Royal Navy, said he was blown away by the reception he received during the day – which came ahead of his 63rd birthday on Tuesday.

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Pictured left to right: Chris Purcell, 63, of Fratton, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Louise Purcell, and Labour's shadow defence secretary John Healey

Chris said the invite had been arranged by Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan following a chat with the Labour politician at the recent D-Day commemorations.

He told The News: ‘It came totally out of the blue. His office then sent an email to say if we would like to go to the Houses of Parliament for a few drinks with Keir Starmer. I thought blimey.’

Speaking of the Labour leader, Chris added: ‘He was very friendly to us. We asked if we could have a photo with him and I put my arm around his shoulder. It was just nice to feel appreciated.’

The exclusive do was attended by other Labour MPs, including shadow defence secretary John Healey, and members of the armed forces community.

Chris and Louise Purcell with Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, centre.

It came ahead of Saturday’s Armed Forces Day event, which aims to celebrate all of the nation’s military community, past and present.

Mr Morgan, whose grandfather James Kaminski stormed the beaches of Normandy during D-Day, praised the nation’s current military personnel.

He added: ‘I was delighted to welcome members of our city’s armed forces community to Parliament this week to celebrate Armed Forces Day with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

‘Our armed forces play a crucial role in defending our communities at home and abroad. They showed total professionalism with their support during the pandemic and continue to play a crucial role in defending the UK and our Nato allies from Russian aggression.

‘Labour’s commitment to our armed forces is unbreakable. I am deeply proud of our servicemen and servicewomen, veterans and their families in Portsmouth, and I want to thank them for their incredible service as we prepare to mark Armed Forces Day later this week.’