Former NFA Chief Executive Piers Storie-Pugh remembers one of ‘The Few’:
“It seemed like the end of an era when Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot and NFA beneficiary Squadron Leader Ken Wilkinson died very recently, aged 99. He was an important contributor to the Telegraph 2013 Christmas Charity Appeal coverage of the NFA which generated a huge amount of publicity and significant funds for the charity.
“Ken, who lived in Solihull for many years, was one of the last Battle of Britain pilots alive and probably the last RAF pilot to have flown from RAF Fowlmere in Cambridgeshire.
“I met Ken in 2012 at Capel-le-Ferne Battle of Britain Memorial Day, when I represented The Not Forgotten Association. The WWII veterans took pride of place and I recognised quite a few; however, there was one I had never seen before. Ken Wilkinson and I soon got chatting and I asked him whether he had returned to RAF Fowlmere since the war: he replied that he had not been there since 1940. I arranged for us to visit together and throughout that 436-mile journey he was delightful company, an amusing raconteur and a true gentleman.
“We were joined at the old aerodrome, now a farm, by Carl Harvey, a modern day Royal Air Force veteran and NFA beneficiary: they got on so well. As we drove around with the farm owner Martin Shedrick, Ken was in his element and such good company as he recounted many stories from 1940. I too was thrilled after living almost all my life just two miles from RAF Fowlmere and spending much of my of my youth exploring there: I had never met a Fowlmere pilot until I met Ken.
“Ken Wilkinson represented a fine generation: modest, honourable and loyal. He loved attending the NFA Christmas lunches at Solihull and I feel hugely privileged to have met him.”