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Bevin Boy honoured

PUBLISHED: 14:40 26 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:17 07 July 2010

A group of "Bevin Boys" - including a man from Fakenham - who worked in Britain's coal mines during the second world war were finally honoured for their service by Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday.

A group of “Bevin Boys” - including a man from Fakenham - who worked in Britain's coal mines during the second world war were finally honoured for their service by Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday.

Geoff Rose was among a total of 27 “Boys” who attended a ceremony in Downing Street and it is now hoped thousands of others will also receive commemorative badges.

The importance of the contribution by the 48,000 men who helped ease the UK's severe shortage of coal, has never before been formally recognised.

Mr Brown told those receiving their badges a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the last Bevin Boy being de-mobbed: “I'm sorry, in a way, it's taken until now to recognise your service, but it's right that we do so and it's right that we remember everything you've done.

“The service that the Bevin Boys gave to this country was incredibly important and not only helped us to win the war but also to rebuild our country after the war.”

Mr Rose, of Victoria Lane, Fakenham, attended with his wife Margaret, and has been a key player in the campaign to get the “Boys” recognised.

He was accompanied by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “This recognition is incredibly important to them and is long overdue.

“I was delighted to support him.”

Mr Brown's predecessor, Tony Blair, announced last June the badges would be

produced to express the country's gratitude for their crucial role.

Thousands of conscripts were diverted to the mines in the final years of the war, in a scheme named after Labour legend Ernest Bevin, who was Minister of Labour and National Service in Winston Churchill's coalition government.

Warwick Taylor, vice-president of the Bevin Boys Association, said: “Finally the Bevin Boys have surfaced. I've campaigned for many years for this to happen. It's overdue, but you only have to

look at the faces to see what it means to people, you can't feel bitter about

it.”

Among the celebrities receiving their medals were Lord Rix and Sir Jimmy Savile, who said “During the

war, none of us did anything expecting recognition, it was all done for survival and freedom. The fact that 60 years later somebody says 'here's a medal for what you did comes as a tremendous surprise and honour.”

Nearly 3000 applications have been received by other Bevin Boys and badges are being sent out. Up to 11,000 could be eventually given out.

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