Ex-RAF youth leader dies aged 81
A PROMINENT former youth activity group leader and carnival committee member has died.
Michael Harris, 81, who will be best remembered for his involvement with the Ashford Woodcraft Folk and Ashford Carnival, died at the Park View Care Home on January 12.
He was born in 1928 and grew up an only child in Barrow Hill Terrace, Ashford, with his mother.
One of his first jobs was as a film projectionist at the Ashford Odeon cinema and during the war he narrowly escaped an attack by a German aircraft which was shot down while trying to bomb the railway works.
During this time he was a keen cyclist and member of Ashford Wheelers Cycling Club.
Mr Harris served two years National Service in the Royal Artillery before joining the Royal Air Force and became a Flight Sergeant, flying mainly in Shackleton aircraft as a navigator.
His tours included Scotland and Northern Ireland in the 1950s.
After leaving the RAF he worked for toy company Tri-ang’s Canterbury factory inventing and making prototypes including cars for the Minic Motorway toy line.
The company went into liquidation and Mr Harris joined KCC as an audio and visual aids technician until his retirement.
Outside work he was involved with youth activ- ity and was an assessor for Duke of Edinburgh Awards, a member of Children’s Day, the Headman of Ashford Woodcraft Folk from the late 1960s.
In his retirement he continued his lifelong interest in flying by joining Kent Gliding Club, Challock and the local branch of the RAFA.
For most of his life, he and his wife Jill, who died in 2000, lived at Noakes Meadow, Ashford.
His funeral was at Charing Crematorium on Tuesday. He is survived by his four sons, Paul, Kevin, Timothy and Julian and 11 grandchildren.
Son Kevin Harris said: “You could say he was a bit of an exhibitionist and could be quite controversial, he was always prepared to give his view.”
Winifred Cheal celebrating her 100th birthday with daughter Elaine Jefferies and son Martyn Cheal at Eastwell Manor
Michael Harris riding a penny-farthing at Ashford Carnival during the 1990s