Pride of NZ Awards: Tireless advocate for nuclear-test victims

By Dale Wicken

Mr Sefton was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for public service in 1999.
Mr Sefton was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for public service in 1999.

Roy Sefton

Lifetime Achievement category: Advocating for the health and recognition of New Zealanders affected by nuclear service has been the goal of Roy Sefton for the past 40 years.

The surviving veteran has been nominated in the lifetime achievement category for the Pride of New Zealand awards.

Mr Sefton was involved in Operation Grapple — the British nuclear test series held in the Pacific Ocean in 1957 to 1958. He and the other servicemen aboard the two New Zealand frigates were exposed to harmful levels of ionised radiation, resulting in many premature deaths and offspring who also bore the effects.

"In the 1970s I started to become aware of guys that seemed to be dying prematurely and I never felt quite well myself," he said.

"There were a mass of symptoms and pain and the younger the veterans had been, the more their immune system seemed to have been damaged.

It was the experiences of others that pushed me to want to obtain public awareness of the effects these veterans were dealing with."

Mr Sefton has taken his mission to the European Court of Human Rights, the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence, and is now lobbying the Government for funding towards the health of veterans and their children.

He was also awarded the Queen's Service Medal for public service in 1999.

Mr Sefton's nominator said: "His tireless efforts and selfless application and thousands of hours spent on scientific and complex legal arguments makes this man a true rainbow warrior and a man fiercely loyal and protective of those he represents."

- Manawatu Guardian

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