A quarter century of service

A wartime barrage balloon operator who became a long-standing volunteer at the Battle of Britain Memorial in later life has died aged 93.

Daphne Stoker, who served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), lived with her husband Ken – also a committed volunteer at the Memorial – in Whitfield, near Dover. She passed away on 27 December and was fondly remembered at a funeral service at Barham Crematorium on Tuesday (16 Jan).

Both members of the Dover branch of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA), Daphne and Ken were present at the unveiling of the National Memorial to the Few in July 1993 and quickly volunteered to help with site maintenance and other tasks.

Their self-appointed tasks included varnishing the seats and other woodwork, while Daphne was renowned for rarely being seen without a tin of Brasso in her hand as she kept the various plaques around the site sparkling.

The funeral was attended by Battle of Britain Memorial Trust secretary Patrick Tootal and his wife Janet, a number of volunteers and site manager Jules Gomez and assistant manager Audrey Gomez. Jules described it as “a fitting service”, adding: “Daphne’s coffin was draped with a Union Flag and her medals were on display. There were two standard bearers in attendance to add to the occasion”.

When Daphne first began helping at the site, volunteers had the tricky extra task of extracting £1 from visitors in cars. Providing refreshments was also more of a challenge than now, since before the conservatory was added to Hunting lodge it was just an open air café.

Patrick Tootal recalled: “Daphne and Ken were regular attendees at the Trust’s annual Memorial Day. Right up until about two years ago, when Daphne became too ill to help, they carried on varnishing and polishing.  Their hard work was recognised by an invitation by the Lord Lieutenant to attend a Royal Garden Party, which they both thoroughly enjoyed.”

After the funeral Ken Stoker asked for one of the floral tributes to be displayed at the Memorial (below).

Daphne funeral tribute

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