The Armed Forces Day flag was hoisted (Monday 25th) in a ceremony to launch this year’s Plymouth Armed Forces Week and the countdown to the city hosting the Armed Forces Day National Event on Saturday (30th June).
The ceremony, outside Plymouth Guildhall, was witnessed by passers-by, workers and shoppers and included school children, military veterans, armed forces personnel and cadets. Guests included Plymouth Lord Mayor Michael Wright and Lady Mayoress Deborah Osborne and Rear Admiral Clive Johnstone, who heads the Flag Officer Sea Training organisation at Devonport Naval Base.
Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Michael Wright, said: “Plymouth is incredibly proud to be hosting the Armed Forces Day National Event, particularly during such a special year for the United Kingdom. “This is a chance to honour our servicemen and women and pay tribute to their courage, their dedication and the enormous sacrifices they make for each and every one of us. The raising of the Armed Forces Day flag marks the start of Plymouth’s annual Armed Forces Week, and the countdown to an exciting day of family entertainment and spectacular land, sea and air displays. “We look forward to welcoming serving personnel, veterans, reservists, cadets and their families to our historic waterfront on Saturday, and staging a national celebration to remember.”
Plymouth Armed Forces Week is an annual event organised by Plymouth City Council in support of the Armed Forces Day initiative. Special events, visits and activities take place across the city each year to raise awareness of the service community and celebrate the outstanding contribution it makes to our country, as well as forge closer links between the armed forces and young people.
Plymouth school children, from St Peter’s, St Andrews and Holy Cross were part of the ceremony. A cheering line of pupils passed an Armed Forces Flag along to be hoisted by Plymouth Sea Cadets after songs sung by children in front of the guests.
Royal Marine Lance Corporal Dave Kent, 22, of Stonehouse Barracks took part in the ceremony. He said he would be visiting Armed Forces Day with his partner who is in the Military Wives Choir: “It is important to have Armed Forces Day because the public are more interested in the armed forces now since we have been in Afghanistan. They should be aware of what role the armed forces are doing throughout the world. There is more awareness in the past ten years. However, we always get a great reception in Plymouth because it is a garrison town and now things are even better.’’ He said seeing children involved in the celebrations was part of the process of helping future families remain appreciative of the armed forces.
Towns and cities across the country will be hoisting flags to mark Armed Forces Day but the spotlight is on Plymouth this year as it has been chosen to host the UK’s main celebrations on Saturday. Plymouth City Council has been working closely with the armed forces and its partners to stage a packed day of family entertainment and spectacular displays on the Hoe, followed by evening entertainment on the Barbican. HRH The Earl of Wessex is attending the event and will take the salute in one of the biggest military parades hosted by the city in recent years.
The day will also include an exciting field gun competition between Devonport Naval Base and HMS Raleigh, a ‘steampast’ of ships out in Plymouth Sound, a live performance by the Military Wives Choir with the Royal Marines Band and an hour-long air show, featuring the Red Arrows.
After today’s event the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress hosted a reception at the Council House and presented twelve Veteran’s Badges. There was also be a prize presentation for the young winners of an Armed Forces Day poster and pin badge design competition organised by the Council.
The Armed Forces Day flag will remain flying until sunset on Sunday 1 June.