French honour director of the Yorkshire Air Museum

Darlington and Stockton Times: Ian Reed, director of the Yorkshire Air Museum. Ian Reed, director of the Yorkshire Air Museum.

A MUSEUM boss from the region has been awarded one of France’s highest honours.

French president François Hollande has conferred the Order of Merit on Ian Reed, director of the Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial at Elvington, near York.

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. Mr Reed’s award is at the rank of “Officier.”

The initiative was first made by the French ambassador, Bernard Emié, and the proposed by the French Foreign Minister.

It is in recognition of Mr Reed's career, his commitment to the duty of remembrance for the airmen of France and his 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 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.

This year a series of 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 – comprising 2,300 French airmen - arriving in York.

And in 2011 Mr Reed organised the “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.

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