On the way to Tesco on Saturday evening, I passed what appeared to be the immediate aftermath of a road accident just outside St Ecgwins Club in Evesham High Street. A man was lying in the road, being attended to by passers-by. I briefly considered stopping, but made a decision not to as there were already several people present, and I don’t have any in-depth first aid training, so I’d have simply been adding to the numbers for no good purpose. So I drove on. By the time I made the return journey, the road had been closed off by the police and I had to take a diversion to get home.
So it wasn’t until today that I learned two things: The accident had proven fatal and the victim was Noel Wilkes.
Noel was a veteran of the D-Day landings and, even at the age of 90, an active member of the Evesham Royal British Legion. I can’t claim to have known Noel well, but during my time as Mayor of Evesham last year I had the pleasure of his company at several events organised by the Legion. And it was a genuine pleasure; Noel’s enthusiasm for his task was obvious and, despite the impressive array of medals he was entitled to wear at ceremonial occasions he wore his history lightly. He never boasted of his achievements, but was always willing to answer questions and share his knowledge. Noel was one of that rare breed of men: a genuine hero of war who lived up to that label in peacetime. Until the very last day of his life he was dedicated to serving his community.
My thoughts, prayers and sympathies go out to Noel’s family. Losing a man of his stature is always a tragedy. To lose him in such a manner is doubly so.
RIP Noel Wilkes. You truly fought the good fight.