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News Archive > General > Veteran Harry honoured by Queen

Veteran Harry honoured by Queen

By Simon Fernley 13th March 2020

Veteran Harry honoured by Queen
Harry and Sheila Billinge with Harry´s MBE

HARRY Billinge has been a familiar sight in the town centre for six decades.

In his trademark green beret he’s been rattling tins for the Poppy Appeal and latterly the Normandy Memorial Trust, raising countless thousands in the process.

However, he has now become Britain’s best-loved war veteran after a string of high-profile appearances on national media captured the nation’s heart – none more so than last year when BBC News presenter Naga Munchetty had tears in her eyes as she interviewed Mr Billinge in honour of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Marking the day that thousands lost their lives on the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944, the 93-year-old stressed the importance of remembering those who fought in the war as he spoke on BBC Breakfast.

“My generation saved the world, and we must never forget any of them,” he said. He went on to recall how a friend of his died in his arms, and it took until the 60th anniversary of his death to find out where he was buried.

When Naga thanked him for his services, he replied: “Don’t thank me. And don’t say I’m a hero. I’m no hero. I was lucky because I’m here. All the heroes are dead and I’ll never forget them as long as I live.”

She couldn’t contain her emotions as she shook the veteran’s hand, and her voice cracked as tears rolled down her face. This typical act by a reluctant hero prompted a campaign to see him knighted. During an unannounced whistle-stop tour, again last year, the Duke of Cornwall requested

Harry’s presence at a private one-to-one meeting at Tregorrick Park. Harry wasn’t knighted but he did recive the MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours for services to charity, raising an incredible £25,000 for his beloved Normandy Memorial Trust.

The Voice caught up with Harry when he returned from the Palace after receiving his MBE from the Queen. Looking smart in his formal dress coat, he spoke about his experience with her majesty.

He said: “When I was called up to receive my medal she knew all about me and spotted that I was wearing a King George VI medal,which of course came from her father. She liked that. A marvellous woman, a real role model too. This MBE isn’t for me, it’s for the lads in Normandy.”   

By Simon Fernley 13th March 2020

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