A PACKED programme of events gets under way this weekend to honour the Armed Forces.
Armed Forces Day was started in 2009 to replace Veterans’ Day and is now held in late June to coincide with the first investiture ceremony for the Victoria Cross, the highest military gallantry decoration in British Armed Forces.
Last Saturday’s South Essex Armed Forces Day event, in Billericay was the largest military celebration in the county for 30 years.
This weekend, events will be held across the region on the day itself, Saturday, with parades on Canvey and in Southend, with the latter event including an open-air service in the High Street.
Southend Council raised the Armed Forces Day flag in a ceremony on Monday and mayor Chris Walker wants the town to turn out in force to support the weekend’s celebrations.
He said: “The words on the flag are ‘give your support’, that is what I hope everyone else will do.
“We all respect the Forces and the good job they do. It has special meaning to me as my mace carrier and chauffeur is a former serviceman.
I respect him and support him every day and he does the same for me.”
Former Northern Irish Militia veteran Robert McAllister, 55, who now lives in Westcliff, is looking forward to the events.
He said: “It’s a great day for the town, for local people, and for former servicemen and women to wear their uniformwith pride.
“Many people don’t know that others have served and this is their time to show it, much like the reserve forces do with their uniform day.”
Free c2c offer for military and veterans
Train operator c2c is offering free travel this weekend for current and former military personnel taking part in Armed Forces Day events.
Community events will be taking place along the c2c line, and the company’s fleet performance engineer Justin Hope, who spent ten years in the Royal Navy, said: “I’m pleased that c2c is getting behind Armed Forces Day and offering free travel.
“These local community events will allow people to show their support for the Armed Forces and it also promises to be a great day out for all the family.”
To qualify for free travel, current or former military personnel need to show their Defence Discount Service card, Veteran Rewards For Forces card, or wear military uniform.
SOUTHEND HIGH STREET
- Parade and open-air service
- Military vehicles
- Music stages with performances
- throughout the day and into the
- Charities and associations displaying
- and collecting
CANVEY TOWN CENTRE
- Town centre procession from Castle View School car park to the Paddocks
SOUTHEND – CITY BEACH
- Beach Tag Rugby Competition
- Veteran, cadets and charity stalls
- Military vehicles
- Music performances and entertainment through the day