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World War II veteran finally awarded medal recognising his bravery over 70 years ago

Gerry Grant with his Russian Medal of Ushakov. Photo: ITV News.

A Second World War veteran has finally been awarded a medal recognising his bravery over 70 years ago.

Gerry Grant, 91, from St Annes, was presented with the Ushakov Medal, which is awarded to sailors who displayed courage in the course of defending Russia or its interests, because of his role in the "Arctic Convoys" of World War II.

Mr Grant was awarded the medal last year but was unable to attend to receive it in person.

Instead he asked Blind Veterans UK, a military charity that has supported him for the last 15 years, to collect the medal and present it to him on behalf of the Russian Government today.

"It is an honour to receive this award. After the war, a lot of the group that made up the Arctic Convoy formed the 'North Russia Club'.

"I will be wearing my club tie when I am presented with the medal and I'll be collecting it on behalf of all of them, many of whom are sadly no longer here to pick up their own."

– Gerry Grant.

Until 2013, the Foreign Office did not allow Russia to honour veterans like Gerry as it broke the rules on foreign medals.

The Arctic Convoy was made up of vessels which travelled from Britain to Russia to keep the Soviet Union supplied with vital goods and weapons during World War II.

The route that ships took was described by Churchill as the "worst journey in the world" and, by the end of the war, more than 100 ships and 3000 allied seamen were lost.

Gerry served as a Petty Officer of the Watch in Naval Communications throughout the war, including on the HMS Jamaica Cruiser as part of the Arctic Convoy.

After joining the Navy at 16, he celebrated his 21st birthday on one of the many trips around the Arctic.

He has received support from Blind Veterans UK, formerly St Dunstan's, since 2001 after losing his sight overnight due to what is known as an "eye stroke".

The charity has provided him with training and equipment to allow him to continue living as independently as possible.

Gerry received his medal today. Credit: ITV News.

It is only right that the brave Arctic Convoy veterans like Gerry should be recognised for the incredible sacrifice they made in World War II.

"The influence of those valiant sailors cannot be overstated, which is obviously why the Russian embassy still wishes to recognise the bravery they showed after 70 years.

"It is a great honour for Blind Veterans UK to play a part in Gerry's special day."

– Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK
Gerry's Medal of Ushakov. Credit: ITV News.