Centenarian Kathleen gets her second medal for keeping Britain’s wartime Spitfires flying

A 100-year-old woman whose mechanical skills helped keep Britain’s legendary Spitfire fighters flying during World War Two has been given a replacement for the long-lost medal she received for her work.

Now residing in a care home in Tonna, Neath, in the dark days of the Second World War, Kathleen ‘Kay’ Clement was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).

Based at RAF Loughborough, her role as a mechanic was to maintain the Spitfires which were vital for the country’s war effort.

After the conflict she was presented with a King’s Loyal Service Medal for her valuable efforts – the medal having been presented to her on behalf of King George VI.

Years later however, Kathleen lost the priceless medal and when Finola Pickwell, Regional Armed Forces Liaison Officer for Neath Port Talbot, Swansea and Bridgend, became aware of the loss while speaking to Kathleen – who had been nominated for a Mayor of Neath Port Talbot’s Award – she began arranging for a replacement.

Earlier this month, Cllr Chris Williams (last year’s Neath Port Talbot Mayor) presented Kathleen with the Mayor’s Award which she had won – but that wasn’t all.

Finola Pickwell then had the great pleasure of witnessing Wing Commander Stephen Fry (Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Glamorgan) and Air Commodore Robert Woods (Air Officer Wales) presenting Kathleen with a replacement for her long-lost King’s Loyal Service Medal.

Finola said: “Her eyes welled up and she said the medal meant more to her than if she’d been given a solid gold watch….it was an emotional moment.

“It’s amazing to think the medal was originally presented to her on behalf of King George VI for her services in the WAAF as a Spitfire Mechanic during WW2, and after the reign of the Queen Elizabeth II, the longest serving monarch in history, she was eventually given a replacement in the reign of King George VI’s grandson, King Charles III.”

Former serviceman, Cllr Wyndham Griffiths, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “This lady thoroughly deserved the Mayor’s Award and I’m sure everyone will be delighted she has a replacement medal for the valiant work she did in maintaining Britain’s Spitfires when they were so needed.”