Family pride at Queen’s tribute

Michael and Gillian with the medal awarded posthumously to Matthew
Michael and Gillian with the medal awarded posthumously to Matthew

‘OVERWHELMING’ is how Michael Stenton described the moment he collected a Military Cross from The Queen on behalf of his son Matthew.

Michael, of Queensgate, travelled to London with his wife Gillian to receive the honour awarded to Matthew for his bravery during a rescue mission in Afghanistan last July.

Matthew was shot and killed by insurgents as he provided cover to enable the successful rescue of an injured comrade and was posthumously awarded the Military Cross for his actions - one of the highest awards given by the Army for bravery.

In an informal ceremony last Tuesday, Michael and Gillian collected the medal from The Queen at Buckingham Palace in what Michael said was an emotional day for the couple.

“It was practically a one-on-one with the Queen,” he said.

“It was just me and Gillian in the room with her and a lady in waiting, so it did feel a bit surreal.

“She already knew the background, she said straight away that she was really grateful that we have lads like Matthew out there doing what they are doing for the country. I was really pleased by that, it did make me very proud that she had expressed her personal thanks like that, but she could see that by that point I was getting a bit choked up about it so she started talking to Gillian.

“It was a really nice experience, though I wish even now that I didn’t have to collect the medal, I wish more than anything that Matthew had been there to collect it himself.

“It was all a bit overwhelming.”

The Stentons were at the palace on the same day as the parents of Matthew’s comrade, Lance Corporal Stephen Monkhouse, who was killed in the same operation and was also posthumously awarded the Military Cross.

Singer Annie Lennox also passed the Stentons as she was at the Palace to collect an OBE for her charity work.