As an MP people ask for your help with an array of issues.
Some can be quite straight forward to resolve, others a bit more complex, but more often than not you will have dealt with something similar before and that experience serves you well when the next person with the same problem needs some help.
However, when I met Hyde resident, Dennis Ash, whilst out canvassing with Cllr Jim Fitzpatrick in Hyde last year, he had a problem which I have not had to deal with before.
Dennis, who served with the Royal Marines during World War 2, had been the victim of a burglary some months earlier in which his medals from the war had been stolen. Naturally this had been quite an upsetting incident.
A burglary is never a nice thing to have to endure but when something with such sentimental value is taken from you it makes it all the worse.
The fact that anyone could stoop so low appals me, and I offered to do anything I could to help get them returned.
I made contact with the Ministry of Defence straight away to enquire about what could be done, and it was made very clear that this would not be an easy process.
The armed forces are reluctant to issue replacement medals in most cases due to fear of people fraudulently obtaining ones that they are not entitled to.
This is understandable, but in the case of someone such as Dennis, who had his medals taken through no fault of his own, the overly bureaucratic process is not in the slightest bit helpful.
The next step was to speak to the police and obtain details from the crime report then go back to the MOD to retrieve the relevant details from Dennis’s service records which, as seen as he served over 70 years ago, were not as easy to obtain as you might think.
After nearly a year of correspondence with different parts of the MOD I was extremely happy to contact Dennis again to inform him that they had finally agreed to replace his medals.
However, there was one last barrier to overcome. Nothing comes for free, so the saying goes, and it seems the MOD is no different - replacement medals come with a price tag.
Thankfully, with the kind help of Hyde’s Cllr Philip Fitzpatrick, the money was raised via the Hyde District Assembly and the medals were officially on their way.
On Tuesday of this week I had the honour of formally presenting them to Dennis at Hyde Town Hall. Dennis was delighted to be reunited with the medals and seeing how happy he is was extremely satisfying. It was a pleasure to help him, and the fact that what we got a result serves as a small recognition of everything he did for this country during the war.
Published August 16th 2013