Mission to surprise ‘Mrs Harleston MBE’ a success

Carol Wiles MBE, of Harleston, with husband Malcolm in front of an Avro Lancaster. ANL-160206-102105001
Carol Wiles MBE, of Harleston, with husband Malcolm in front of an Avro Lancaster. ANL-160206-102105001

Surprises don’t come any better than the one sprung on Harleston’s Carol Wiles to celebrate the award of her MBE.

Three days after her investiture by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Place, colleagues from Harleston’s Future drove her 100 miles to the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. But two miles from the Bomber Command memorial she was told to keep her eyes shut tight.

Carol Wiles MBE, of Harleston, in front of an Avro Lancaster. ANL-160206-102119001

Carol Wiles MBE, of Harleston, in front of an Avro Lancaster. ANL-160206-102119001

Still with her eyes closed she was guided into a huge hangar and asked to list her favourite things. “Aeroplanes, especially the Lancaster. Just to see one fills me with emotion for what it is and what it represents,” she said.

And when she was told to open her eyes, she was standing under the wings of an Avro-Lancaster with the iconic comic strip Just Jane character decorating the fuselage. “It brought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat to find myself so close up to a Lancaster. It was an honour just to be there,” she said afterwards.

”Sitting in the pilot’s seat holding the controls really brought home to me the scale of the task and the risk faced by those who flew these aircraft in conflict.

“It was a fitting conclusion to five months of joy since I learned of my award. My country has honoured me and it was important that I could spend a moment to remember those who played a vital part in giving me the quality of life in this country that I enjoy today.”

It brought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat to find myself so close up to a Lancaster. It was an honour just to be there

Carol Wiles MBE