News Release - Issued by Yorkshire Air Museum
On the evening of Friday 28th March, Ian Reed, Director of the Allied Air Forces Memorial and Yorkshire Air Museum was formally presented with the medal D’Officier De L’Ordre National Du Merite, as conferred by the President of France. The presentation ceremony was held in the Residence of the French Ambassador to Britain in Kensington Palace Gardens, London.
Amongst the many friends, family and guests who accepted the invitation to attend the ceremony was the former Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Stephen Dalton, who has retained his close association with the Allied Air Forces Memorial as a Vice President, and Jan Leeming, also a Vice President of the Memorial, who has worked closely with Ian on the research of a number of French aircrew veterans. The Honorary French Consul of Leeds, Mr. Jeremy Burton also attended, along with Lionel Chatard, the General Manager of Middlethorpe Hall, York.
TheOrdre National du Mérite is one of France's most exclusive awards, especially at the rank of Officier, and has only been given to around 2500 people throughout the world. The decoration was bestowed upon Ian Reed by Général D’Armée Jean-Louis Georgelin, Grand Chancelier De La Légion D’Honneur and L’Ordre National Du Merite.
M. Bernard Emié, Ambassador for France confirmed that the award was in recognition of Mr Reed's career, his commitment to the duty of remembrance for the airmen of France and the admirable work over the last 20 years which has given France a special presence and renown.
The Allied Air Forces Memorial undertakes events and exhibitions across Britain and currently has an exhibition in Central London about the French Air Force within RAF Bomber Command. Mr Reed recently arranged for the Battle of Britain medals to be presented at a special ceremony in Paris to the families of two famous Free French fighter pilots, Henri Lafont and Rene Mouchotte and is presently arranging a commemoration of Yves Mahé who helped saved the City of York during WWll. The Museum’s central archive is the repository for several other national air force related collections and this year a series of around 6 special events are planned to coincide with the Grand Départ of the Tour de France and the 70th anniversary of 346 "Guyenne" and 347 "Tunisie" squadrons arriving in York which comprised of 2500 French airmen. In 2011 Mr. Reed organised the huge "French in York" festival of commemorative events, which culminated in the first French memorial in an English cathedral being inaugurated at York Minster followed by a parade and fly-past of over 16 French and British war planes.
Ian Richardson Communications Manager
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Vice Presidents: Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford KCB CBE ADC RAF, Chief of the Air Staff; Général Denis Mercier, Chief of the French Air Force; Général Jean-Paul Paloméros, Supreme Allied Commander NATO; His Grace the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu; Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton GCB FRAeS; Air Commodore Graham Pitchfork MBE RAF; Ms Jan Leeming; M Paul Bogaert President Les Amicale des Groupes Lourds.
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