Nuclear test veterans hope film will help fight

Nuclear test veteran Gordon Wilcox, who features in the film shown at Parliament. Nuclear test veteran Gordon Wilcox, who features in the film shown at Parliament.

David Bale david.bale2@archant.co.uk
Saturday, June 28, 2014
8:42 AM

Nuclear test veterans in Norfolk are hoping a film shown to MPs in Parliament last week that outlines their experiences more than 50 years ago will finally help them get recognition for their suffering.

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Thousands of servicemen took part in the tests in Australia and the South Pacific in the 1950s and 1960s, and veterans claim that they were made ill as a result of being exposed to radiation.

The 40-minute film, entitled Nobody told us Anything, documents the veterans’ participation in the tests, as well as their experiences and their families’ experiences since the tests took place.

The film screening was hosted on Wednesday by the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association and campaigning MP, John Baron. As well as gaining official recognition, the remaining veterans hope to secure a £25m fund to be held in trust to fund their needs and their families’ needs. It comes only months after prime minister David Cameron said he would ask “further questions” within government to see what more could be done to help thousands left afflicted due to the atomic tests.

Gordon Wilcox, a 76-year-old grandfather-of-four from Attleborough, who features in the film, was just 20 when he was sent to Christmas Island in 1957.

He said: “A lot of veterans and their families were affected very soon after the tests. Touch wood, at the moment I’m okay. Our concern is long-term, and the fact that radiation does affect chromosomes and genes, and the effects can last for 10 generations. The film has passed the message on to MPs and we hope a fund will be set up to cover health cover requirements for veterans and their families.”

Earlier this year, another veteran David Freeman, from Thorpe St Andrew, spoke about fears his family could suffer birth defects for generations because of his exposure to radiation. Several of his children and grandchildren have suffered genetic defects, he said, but the Ministry of Defence denies any link.

Are you fighting to get recognition or compensation from the government? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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