Army widow ‘absolutely thrilled’ with mention on Honours list

·2-min read

An Army widow has said being named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list is “all the more special” due to the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Christine Gemmell, 62, from Dromara in County Down, has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the Army Widows’ Association.

Ms Gemmell said she is “absolutely thrilled” about the award which she says is recognition of all the “vitally important” work the organisation does.

A nurse by profession, Ms Gemmell became involved with the Army Widows’ Association following the death of her husband.

Stephen Gemmell, from Thame in Oxfordshire, worked for the Special Investigations Branch and died from a heart attack in March 2005 at the age of 47.

Ms Gemmell, who has held the position of chair at the organisation, said the Army Widows’ Association is a “lifeline for so many people” and brings together women who share an “immediate bond”.

Speaking about her award, Ms Gemmell told the PA news agency: “I’m shocked but I’m absolutely thrilled. Absolutely thrilled and delighted.

“I don’t know whether it just makes it all the more special because it’s in the Platinum Jubilee year.”

Ms Gemmell added: “We all consider ourselves very loyal to the Queen.”

She said she refers to the widows as “my other family”, adding: “It’s just an immediate bond. It’s very hard to describe.”

Ms Gemmell said: “I’ve got friends all over the place and when you meet it’s like you’ve never been apart.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The Army Widows’ Association was founded in 2004 by a group of Army widows who felt that there was a need for an organisation that represented and understood the needs of Army widows.

It welcomes widows, widowers and recognised partners of Army personnel, regardless of cause of death.

Ms Gemmell said: “I think it’s just vitally important the work that we do. And it’s run by widows for widows, and is completely voluntary.

“It’s (the award) recognition of all the work that we do.”

Elsewhere on the honours list, Eileen Kelly-McGregor, chairwoman of the board of trustees at the Army Widows’ Association, is made a MBE for voluntary service to bereaved families.

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