CEREMONIES are being planned to celebrate the arrival of the Mynarski Memorial Lancaster to the region later this month.

The iconic plane will be at Durham Tees Valley Airport on August 28 and the Middleton St George Memorial Association is planning ceremonies involving veterans and the current Lancaster crew.

Association chairman Geoff Hill has worked closely with the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum and the airport in planning for the visit of the historic aircraft.

He paid tribute to the bravery shown by Canadian officer Andrew Mynarski, who was posthumously awarded the VC.

He was shot down over France in June 1944 after taking off from RAF Middleton St George, now Durham Tees Valley Airport.

He died from his injuries, but was awarded the Commonwealth's highest honour for gallantry, after helping save the life of his colleague trapped in the stricken aircraft.

Mr Hill added that it was also important to remember the 1,266 men died carrying out missions from the base during the Second World War.

The Association will be organising ceremonies around the statue to Andrew Mynarski which stands outside the St George Hotel, which itself served as the officers’ mess during the War. The Lancaster crew will take part in a wreath laying ceremony and will be presented with a framed squadron print and some of the original crockery used in the officers’ mess.

The items will then go on display at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Ontario.

The ceremony will also hear a recording of the moving speech made by Father John Lardie who served as the Roman Catholic padre at Middleton St George during the War.

The speech dates from the 1985 Dedication of the Memorial at the site.

In addition, the Association will have a stand in the foyer of the hotel featuring photographs and memorabilia from the site during wartime.

Tickets for the Lancaster Celebration Day sold out within three days of going on sale.

The event will run between 11am and 6pm, with entry to the car park permitted from 10.30am onwards.

All profits will go to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.