Government pays tribute to Nuclear Test Veterans as UK marks 70th anniversary of first weapons test

Government to host a commemorative event, recognising the contribution veterans of nuclear tests have made to Britain’s security over seven decades.

Veterans of Britain’s nuclear testing programme have “played a crucial role in keeping Britain and our NATO Allies safe and secure”, Minister of Veterans Affairs James Heappey has said.

His comments come 70 years to the day since Britain first tested an atomic weapon. The veterans who participated in the United Kingdom’s nuclear test programme, known as Op Hurricane, made the UK the third nuclear power and contributed to achieving the ultimate guarantee of UK sovereignty, and continues to keep us safe today.

To further recognise the contribution of veterans of Britain’s nuclear tests, the government is investing £450,000 into projects which will commemorate and build further understanding of the experiences of veterans who were deployed to Australasia. The Government will host an event to recognise the contribution of nuclear test veterans later this year.

Minister for Armed Forces and Veterans James Heappey said:

“Veterans who supported the creation of our nuclear deterrent have played a crucial role in keeping Britain and our NATO Allies safe and secure.

“Their sacrifice contributed to achieving the ultimate guarantee of UK sovereignty and they forever have this nation’s gratitude.

“In the year of the seventieth anniversary of Op Hurricane, I look forward to commemorating the incredible service and efforts of our veterans.”

As part of this year’s commemoration, the Office for Veterans’ Affairs will launch a £250,000 oral history project to chronicle the voices and experiences of those who supported the UK’s effort to develop a nuclear deterrent.

The aim of this will be to create a digitised oral record of the experiences of nuclear test veterans which can be preserved for posterity. The project will expand the existing historical records to focus on the lived experience of nuclear test veterans, and can be used for exhibitions and educational resources in the future. Academic and cultural institutions will be able to apply for funding through an open competition to support the oral history project, with funding available from April 2023.

Charities will also be able to bid for a portion of a seperate £200,000 fund, to support activities for nuclear test veterans, and educate the public on the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrence efforts.

The government sponsored event to mark the 70th anniversary will provide an opportunity to bring together veterans, their families, representative groups and parliamentarians to celebrate the unique and significant contributions of those involved in testing and developing our nuclear deterrent.

The Prime Minister has previously spoken about the importance of recognising the sacrifice made by veterans, including by considering the case for medallic recognition. This case is being actively considered and any decisions will be made public in due course.

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By @Cobseo 54 years ago

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