Soldier is awarded medal for her efforts in fight against Islamic State extremists

Major Alison Lea receiving her medal from Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson

Major Alison Lea receiving her medal from Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson - Credit: Archant

A soldier from Huntingdon was one of the first to receive a new medal to mark service in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Major Alison Lea, 42, was presented with her Operational Service Medal Iraq and Syria by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

The medal, also known as the Operation Shader Medal, is the first new operational service medal to be created since 2003 and is awarded to personnel tackling Islamic State, or Daesh, in Iraq and Syria.

Major Lea, who completed two tours of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq, was one of the first 36 soldiers, sailors and aircrew to receive the medal.

The former St Peter’s School student, who also went to Oxford, serves with the Corps of Royal Engineers.

Mr Williamson said: “The campaign against Daesh is one that our armed forces can be extremely proud of. Eliminating the threat from terrorism is critical to our security at home and abroad.

“Our troops have made huge contributions to the fight against Daesh, helping end its tyranny in large parts of Iraq and Syria. Only by defeating this evil and barbaric group for good will we reduce the deadly threat they pose to us.”

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He added: “I am pleased that those who have bravely fought against such untold evil will get the recognition they deserve.”

Mr Williamson confirmed that the Queen had approved the extension of the criteria for receiving the medal to new groups of personnel, including civilians.

This means that personnel who made a significant contribution to the campaign from outside Iraq and Syria - such as drone pilots and intelligence staff - can qualify for the award.