Terminally ill mum wins battle to pass on RAF pension to IVF twins after Defence Secretary steps in

Samantha McConnell celebrates her news with children Rory and Grace. Photo: Media Lincs EMN-180926-121223001
Samantha McConnell celebrates her news with children Rory and Grace. Photo: Media Lincs EMN-180926-121223001

A terminally ill mum of IVF twins has won a landmark battle for her RAF pension to go to her two children after a personal intervention by a Defence Secretary.

Retired linguist Samantha McConnell, who used to be based at RAF Digby. served her country for 20 years accruing a full and immediate pension.

After leaving the armed forces Samantha, 46, now living in Lincoln, achieved her desire for a family through IVF and has two non-identical twin children, Grace, five, and Rory, two, born at separate times using the same batch of embryos.

Earlier this month Samantha, who supported operations in the Falklands, Iraq and the Gulf and has served at other Lincolnshire RAF bases in the past, was dealt the devastating blow that she has terminal cancer and only has weeks to live.

With no partner, parents or siblings Samantha was told her armed forces pension would cease on her death and not be paid to her children as they were born beyond nine months of her RAF exit date.

But after her friend, ex RAF pal Tina Bessell, started a petition to change the “archaic” rule it was announced last night (Tuesday) that Samantha’s children will now receive her pension until they are 21.

In an emotional post Samantha revealed she was crying tears of happiness when she learnt of the decision yesterday.

Samantha said: “I have just been called by Johnny Mercer MP and Tobias Elwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence People and Veterans, who passed on the following message from the Secretary of State for Defence.”

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson stated: “I was deeply saddened to hear of these tragic circumstances. Since learning about this case I have instructed the Department to reverse this decision. I hope that this gives Sammi, her son and daughter the peace of mind that they deserve, knowing they have financial security for the future. They remain in our thoughts.”

Samantha added: “Whilst I wish there was another way, and that this should be unnecessary, I am overjoyed that a children’s pension will be made for both Grace and Rory until the age of 21 or they complete full time education.

“Floods of relief, and joy are mixed with sadness that this is even necessary and I am determined that other single people do not have the same treatment as I have had to endure.”

In a special message to her supporters Samantha said: “Don’t forget to live your lives fully and look after each other - and I am so grateful that you all have looked after me and will continue to do so for Grace and Rory when I’m gone.”