THE widow of a Pembrokeshire police officer has joined a national campaign fighting for women who remarry or live with new partners to keep their husband’s pension.
A campaign was launched around two years ago in a bid to change the rules which could see widows lose their husband’s police pensions if they remarried after their deaths, forcing many to choose between being financially secure or romance.
It was set up by police widow Kate Hall who had to give up her husband’s police pension to pursue happiness with her new partner.
Kate’s husband Colin died from a heart attack while on duty with West Midlands Police in 1987, when she was just 24-years-old.
She set up a petition in 2014, which currently has more than 114,000 signatures and has gained some success with changes being made to ensure that those who lose their husbands while on duty will keep the pension.
But if your husband dies after retirement, like Rita Mills’ husband Frank did, to move in with or marry someone else would see you lose their pension.
Frank was a well-known and liked Pembrokeshire and Dyfed-Powys Police officer for 30 years. He died aged 62, in 1995.
Rita, from Haverfordwest, was 47 when he died and for the last 22 years has lived alone.
A few years ago, when she least expected it, Rita met someone and is now in a loving relationship but has not remarried or set up home with her new partner because of the financial impact that would have.
“It’s my choice not to remarry but it’s a horrible choice. When I visit my partner I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, thinking I hope no one thinks I’m living with him, it’s a strain.
“I’m happy now but I get a bit tearful sometimes, I never thought I’d meet anybody because it wasn’t my mind set. We would like to buy a house together but it I’d lose the pension.
“I miss Frank to this day but I know he’d be looking down saying ‘good on you girl, you’ve looked after yourself’.”
Rita has had a letter of support from Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb and has contacted Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn.
The campaign has had some success and those officers paying into the changed 2006 pension scheme will see their wives protected if they die during or after service but the changes are not backdated to the 1987 scheme which Frank, and many others, paid into.
But the push to allow all police widows to keep their partner’s pensions no matter what their circumstances continues.
Find out more at change.org Police Widow Pensions for Life or to back Rita in the campaign contact her at email@example.com.