North East Wales

Flintshire family campaign for war widow pensions for life

Connah’s Quay memorial to Sgt Malcolm Wigley

The family of a Flintshire soldier killed in the Falklands War has launched a campaign calling for all war widows to receive a pension for life.

Sgt Malcolm Wigley, of Connah's Quay, was killed on 8 June 1982 while serving for the Welsh Guards.

His widow Kath Webster had to surrender the pension after remarrying but said a recent rule change should apply to all.

The Ministry of Defence said it was against making retrospective changes so it was "affordable for the taxpayer".

It comes after the MoD ruled last year that from April 2015, those who "remarry, cohabit or form a civil partnership" would be entitled to the pension for life - but this rule only applies going forward.

Mrs Webster, who was left to raise four-year-old son Bryan after Sgt Wigley died aged 31, had to surrender her pension after marrying David Webster 14 years later.

She is now calling on the UK government to restore the payments of war widow pensions to those who re-married prior to the rule change.

Image caption Carl Sargeant AM has backed Kath Webster's campaign

"It is unfair when you think that wives who lose their husbands now have the money and we can't have it," she said.

"I'm not asking for back-pay for the last 20 years; I just want the money from when the other wives are getting it.

"Even if you marry again you're still a widow. A widow of someone who worked at the steelworks wouldn't lose their pension if they remarried - it should work the same."

Bryan Wigley said his mother had been "penalised" for finding someone "to spend the rest of her life with".

"The war widow's pension is basically compensation for the loss of a spouse and for the pain, anger, confusion and all other emotions that are felt about losing a loved one," he said.

"It's not just after the event, it's still here now 34 years on - the pain doesn't go away, especially at this time of year."

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Media captionBryan Wigley said the rule meant certain war widows are being 'discriminated against'

Their campaign has been supported by Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant.

He said: "We believe there are about 300 women in Kath's position all over the UK.

"As Kath and Bryan have shown, the pain and suffering of losing a loved one in conflict stays with the family even if they remarry.

"These widows' contribution to our country deserves our thanks for the rest of their lives, not just until they re-marry."

Together Mrs Webster, her son and Mr Sargeant have launched a petition and are appealing for other widows affected in Wales to come forward.

An MOD spokesman said: "We listened to campaigners and changed the pension scheme rules to allow survivors' pensions to be paid for life for those who re-married or cohabited on or after 1 April 2015.

"It is the long standing principle, adopted by successive governments, against making retrospective changes to schemes in order that they remain manageable and affordable for the taxpayer."

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