TWO PORTSMOUTH volunteer heroes were guests of honour in the Lord Mayor's parlour after the Prime Minister recognised their outstanding war memorial work.
Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Ken Ellcome hosted Portsmouth residents Jean Louth, 84, and Allan Thompson, 86, at the Guildhall as MP for Portsmouth North Penny Mordaunt thanked them for their exceptional contribution to the city after Theresa May wrote to them personally and gave them Points of Light awards.
Jean Louth spent 27 years campaigning for a second world war memorial plaque in Portsmouth which features the names of 3,436 people who lost their lives during the war.
Allan Thompson is the volunteer responsible for renovating Portsmouth’s only first world war museum, despite being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
Leader of Portsmouth City Council Cllr Donna Jones said: "We had no official second world war memorial plaque until Jean made it happen.
"Jean's father was killed in Dunkirk and it's him who inspired her. Now - because of Jean's hard work - we, as a city, are able to honour the 1,000 civilians from Portsmouth who lost their lives during The Blitz, as well as the more than 2,000 servicemen and women who gave their lives."
Lord Mayor Cllr Ken Ellcome said: "Allan is a Royal Navy veteran who has engineering expertise that he was able to use to renovate the ‘World War I Remembrance Centre’.
"The building was previously in disrepair but by fixing the windows and decorating the entire site, Allan has restored this important site in our city with its rich Naval history."
Jean secured £27,000 of funding from the council, and thousands of pounds of public donations from people paying towards the cost of the engraving names, to help create one of the few memorials of its kind in the country. Jean wrote to each individual person who donated to thank them personally and she regularly speaks at Remembrance service events as a spokesperson for the ‘Portsmouth WW2 Memorial Fund.’
Allan overcame many setbacks to his work. When vandals caused thousands of pounds of damage to the historic Bastion Six fortification by launching bricks through the windows and spray-painting the walls, Allan was determined to continue restoring the site. After three years of intensive restoration work, the centre opened in July 2017.
In a personal letter to Jean, Prime Minister Theresa May wrote: “As a nation, we have a duty to honour those who sacrificed their lives for our country. Through your dedication to commemorating those who were killed in World War Two in Portsmouth, you have given many people in your local community the opportunity to pay their respects to their lost loved ones.”
In her letter to Allan, the Prime Minister wrote: "By renovating the ‘World War I Remembrance Centre’ in Portsmouth, you have ensured that your local community has a place to honour those who sacrificed so much for our country.
"You should be very proud of drawing on your military and engineering expertise to complete the renovations and preserve Portsmouth’s military history.”
Jean said: "I am just an ordinary woman but when I discovered there wasn’t a war memorial in our great city of Portsmouth for the service men who fought and died during World War Two I had to do something. My father was one of those men who were killed during the war; I wanted to see his name honoured on a memorial in the city of his birth and so began my 27 year campaign. I am so grateful I was able to achieve this. I am honoured to receive this award for my efforts.”
Allan said: “I am so pleased and delighted to receive this award. I have been working hard for the past three years to restore this wonderful, historic building using my knowledge of traditional building and carpentry techniques. This is now home to the amazing ‘World War 1 Remembrance Centre’ in Portsmouth. I am so pleased to see visitors from the UK - especially children - and many parts of the world coming in to remember and keep alive the memories of all the people involved in the Great War - a lost generation.”