25th Oct, 2016

Town mourns loss of D-Day vet Noel

Evesham Editorial 30th Oct, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

EMOTIONAL tributes have been paid to an Evesham D-Day veteran who died following a collision with a car in the town.

Noel Wilkes, president of Evesham Royal British Legion (RBL), died on Saturday (October 25) following the incident on Evesham High Street at 7.15pm.

Police believe he was crossing the road near the entrance to Evesham Railway Station when he collided with a black Ford KA.

The 90-year-old was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where he passed away from his injuries. The driver of the vehicle, a 61-year-old woman from Evesham was unhurt.

RBL chairman and town councillor Alan Booth paid his own special tribute.

“As a bloke of 90 years of age, he had more energy than some 40 year olds.” he said.

“He is going to be a big loss to us, he had this incredible knack of getting money out of people and getting things done.”

“He stood outside in all weathers collecting money for the legion and the Poppy Appeal and cared passionately about the RBL.

“It was Noel who put the time and effort into the link between the RBL and the Sea Cadets and thanks to him we have a wonderful relationship with them,” he added.

CPO(SCC) Keith Field, commanding officer of the Evesham Sea Cadets and Royal Marine Detachment said: “A regular visitor to Evesham Sea Cadets, our cadets helped Noel make his last visit to Normandy earlier in the year, and was a guest at our Trafalgar dinner last weekend.

“Our cadets and supporters were all utterly devastated to hear the news on Sunday morning.

“The town hasn’t only lost a war hero, but a kind, gentle, and loving man who dedicated his life, until his last day, to duty and service, may you rest in peace Noel.

“As I wipe a tear away whilst paying tribute, you will always have a place in our hearts.” he said.

The Vicar of Evesham, Rev Andrew Spurr accompanied Noel and members of the RBL on trips to Normandy for the D-Day commemorations and heard many tales from the frontline.

“Noel had been seconded to the Canadian Army and was deployed to drive a petrol tanker off the floating harbours which were well in progress after the first day’s beachheads were established.” Rev Spurr said.

“I once asked how it was to be driving a portable bomb, he said they were required to sleep 400 yards away from the truck!

Officers investigating the incident want to hear from anyone who saw the collision or the circumstances leading up to it.

Anyone with information can call West Mercia Police on 101 quoting incident number 641 of 25th October 2014.

* AN EVESHAM councillor has called for Noel Wilkes to made an honorary freeman of Evesham following his tragic death.

Coun Alan Booth made the suggestion during a meeting of the council’s Planning and General Purposes committee on Monday (October 27).

“I know this is probably not the place but I believe we should consider Noel for the honour, he did a lot for the town.” he said.

The Town Council has the power to award the prestigious honour if it considers Mr Wilkes ‘a person of distinction or who has, in the opinion of the council, rendered eminent services to the local area’ and the proposal is backed by at least two thirds of the councillors.