The President of France has conferred the Order of Merit on Ian Reed, Director of the Yorkshire Air Museum & Allied Air Forces Memorial, Elvington, York. The award is at the rank of “Officier”.
The Ordre National du Mérite is one of France’s most exclusive awards and has only been given to around 2500 people throughout the world.
The initiative was made by the French Ambassador to Great Britain and proposed by the French Foreign Minister. It was confirmed by the President of France by decree dated 5th December.
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.
The award will be formally presented later this year.