A Stowmarket woman who has been involved in efforts to rebuild war-torn Afghanistan met the Queen during the unveiling of a memorial.
Wendy Phillips was invited to the ceremony in London, where Her Majesty unveiled the monument which recognises the roles played by the military and civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Gulf between 1990 and 2015.
The 57-year-old works for the Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) in Afrghanistan and is due to retire at the end of this year.
Wendy, who was DFID’s representative to meet the Queen, said: “I was so surprised and pleased to be invited; I’ve flown back especially for it.
“Being recognised in this way after a 41-year career in DFID is incredibly humbling.”
Wendy attended the event last Thursday with her son Corporal Chris Phillips, of the Army Air Corps.
Both have conducted three tours of Afrghanistan.
Known as the ‘grandmother’ of the DFID office in Afghanistan, she has described her time in the Middle Eastern country as ‘challenging, memorable and lasting’.
In 2003 she was deputy head of office for 18 months and her primary role was to keep her colleagues safe.
She also worked with development advisers in the military and US aid colleagues on development projects.
They looked at issues such as where to build wells, whether health clinics were being built in the right place and securing routes so aid could reach the most number of people.
Wendy was supposed to then go to Sierra Leone but withdrew to return to Afghanistan in 2005 for another 18 months. She moved with the military into Helmand and worked with provincial governments to set up a development committee.
Wendy is now looking after the business side of the office and the welfare of staff.
She said that Afghanistan was a country that ‘wants and needs change’.
“We knew it was going to be tough and we knew change would be incremental,” she said.
“But we are in it for the long haul and we are starting to see real reform in the country.
“UK support has helped to ensure more than 7.2 million children now attend school, 39 per cent of whom are girls, and the Government of Afghanistan are also making more positive commitments, changing the way they operate for the better which will make the biggest difference of all.”