Ex-RAF youth leader dies aged 81

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by James Scott js­cott@thek­m­group.co.uk

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.”

Pic­ture: Gary Browne PD1666671

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

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