Milestone RAFA award for unassuming heroine

AN Edinburgh grandmother-of-three who served during the Second World War has been presented with a 50-year Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) membership badge.

Marion Meal, 90, of Glendevon Road, was awarded the honour at the recent annual meeting of the Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders branch of the association.

She said: “I had no qualms at all about being called up.

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“I was doing my duty for my country – never for a second did medals or even praise cross our minds.”

Marion, originally from Inverness, signed up with the Womens Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) in 1942 and served until 1945 as an instrument repairer at stations across Britain.

She even has the WAAF to thank for meeting her husband, Walter Meal, who was a member of the RAF police.

The couple married in 1945 and raised two children, Ian and Morag.

Marion said: “I spent six weeks in basic training at RAF Innsworth in Gloucester.

“Following this, I was sent all over the country repairing cockpit instruments.

“There was great camaraderie in the WAAF, it was a time in my life that I enjoyed immensely.

“For me, a young girl from Inverness, it came as a real shock to the system to suddenly be involved in the war effort.

“However, the war years were tough for everyone but we got through them all the same.

“You learned to be very self-reliant, something that it wouldn’t do today’s generation any harm to learn.”

Marion, who served for many years as a welfare officer for the RAFA Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders branch was presented with her badge by chairman Jim Scott.

Mr Scott paid tribute to her long and invaluable work with the organisation – admitting that they had only recently found someone to take on the role of welfare officer.

He said: “Marion is a great lady, very humble and modest about what she did during the war.

“She told me that she didn’t want any fuss but I told her nonsense, she deserves the limelight.”

He added: “I’ve been involved with the branch for many years, and Marion’s [is] the first 50 -year badge I’ve ever had the pleasure to award. They don’t make them like her anymore.

“There’s no question Marion was very highly regarded, and she always went over and above the call of duty, whether it was helping members, keeping them company or even attending their funerals, which could be very hard indeed.

“She fully deserves this recognition.”