Glasgow University

A mother who lost her son in the Iraq War is to be awarded an honorary degree from the University of Glasgow (above) for her campaigning.

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon died while serving in Iraq with the Royal Highland Fusiliers, became an outspoken critic of the UK government's handling of the war.

Fusilier Gentle was 19 when an IED exploded under his Land Rover in Basra in June 2004.

His mother, 53, who set up Military Families Against the War and the Justice 4 Gordon Gentle campaigns, holds former prime minister Tony Blair responsible. 

Ms Gentle said:

"I was genuinely surprised to tell the truth."

"I found out a couple of months ago and I was taken aback. It's an honour to get it but I was thinking 'why am I getting this?'

"I was told it was for campaigning and it's lovely to see that campaigning for justice for Gordon and for other families in the Iraq War is being recognised."

Ms Gentle welcomed the publication of the Chilcot report last year, describing it as "comeuppance" for Mr Blair.

During her campaign for answers from the government, Ms Gentle contested the 2005 general election against then armed forces minister Adam Ingram in East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow but lost out.

She met then prime minister Gordon Brown in 2009, having seen a string of meeting requests with Mr Blair turned down.

Ms Gentle is now to receive an honorary doctorate and said her son would be "laughing his head off" at the thought of her going to university:

"I think Gordon would be laughing his head off at this but he'd be saying 'go for it mum'. It's a tribute to him as it's his anniversary this month."

Others being honoured by the university this year include Nobel Prize-winning biologist Sir Paul Nurse, DC Comics artist Frank Quitely and John Shaw, vice chairman of India's largest biopharmaceutical company Biocon Limited.

Professor Anton Muscatelli, principal and vice-chancellor of the university, said:

"Awarding honorary degrees is an opportunity for the university to recognise the achievements of individuals from across all walks of life whose work and public spirited efforts have made a positive impact not just in Scotland, but the UK and around the world.

"We look forward to celebrating the successes of all our honorary graduands, and we also look forward to working with them in the future, for the common good."

Cover photo courtesy of Phillip Capper.