THE campaigning mother of a nurse stabbed to death by her violent ex-boyfriend is to be awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
Penny Clough is one of seven Fylde coast recipients recognised in this year’s awards, including a St Annes scout leader, a top civil servant, a tragic brother who began fund-raising for cancer charities following his sibling’s death and Blackpool Sixth Form College principal Felicity Greeves.
Mrs Clough and husband John successfully campaigned for an appeal system over bail decisions after their daughter, 26-year-old Blackpool Victoria Hospital worker Jane, was stabbed outside the A&E Department by Jonathan Vass while he was on police bail, charged with raping and sexually assaulting her.
Vass was jailed for 30 years for Jane’s murder in 2010, and the rape charges were ordered to lie on file.
And Mrs Clough, 53, said she was reluctant at first to accept the honour, but decided she would in order to give the campaign more credibility.
She added: “We will be using those three letters to carry on for all the victims out there who should be kept safe.
“The campaign was never about getting awards, it was always about making a change; protecting people through the justice system so no-one ends up dead and justice is done.
“You take for granted that would happen, and no-one was more shocked than us about the lack of care the legal system has for victims.
“It’s now nearly 2013 and this award has made us want to get out there and carry on battling. I am going to send out a pile of letters with those three little letters added on and see if it makes people reply to us.”
Mrs Clough, of Barrowford in Nelson, said without the Justice for Jane campaign her daughter’s life would have meant nothing.
She said their battle had helped the family through the grieving process.
She added: “I think we have given Jane’s life some meaning and have been able to alter things along the way.
“Now, another family will not have to go through what we have gone through; we’ve given another family a chance no matter what decision has been made about bail.
“Jane would have expected us to speak out about this. We are her voice and we have to carry on.”
Mrs Clough was told about the award a month ago but has not been allowed to tell anyone until today.
She said her happiness over the news was marred with disappointment that Mr Clough, 52, hadn’t been included.
She said: “My first thought was ‘wow’. My second was ‘have you got one as well?’
“We’ve been through it every step of the way together, so I feel really bad in a way I have one and he doesn’t. I think John has added something incredible to our campaign, looking at things from a man’s point of view; it’s really important to have a dad’s perspective.
“I do feel gutted for him.”
Mrs Clough, an intensive care nurse, said the MBE had also put the family in “a bit of a quandary”.
She added: “This award is to be given by the highest person of the crown – the Queen.
“We are looking at the injustice by the people who represent the crown – the judges who are not doing their jobs well enough.
The family is now campaigning to make judges accountable for the decisions they make, and are attending conferences on domestic violence and the impact it has on victims and their families.
Mrs Clough said: “When the bail amendment bill went through it was amazing.
“In one sense we were elated yet absolutely devastated about the fact it had taken the death of our daughter for it to happen.
“I think it will take another 80 years to get judges to be held to account, but we will carry on digging away at it.
“These are people who have immense power yet they do not even have to answer for the decisions they have made.”
Mrs Clough said collecting her MBE would be a very special occasion for many reasons.
She said she hoped to take several members of her family with her.
“I think we will all be taking a little bit of Jane with us too,” she added.