Spectacular celebrations are underway today to mark the ninth annual Armed Forces Day, honouring the exceptional work and dedication of our brave Servicemen and women deployed around the world.
A record 300 plus events including parades, military displays and community fetes are taking place right across the country to say thank you to the Armed Forces community for the outstanding work they do; Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and women, both Regulars and Reservists are being recognised alongside the wider defence family such as Cadets and veterans past and present.
Today the National Event was held in Liverpool attended by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex representing The Queen and the Royal Family.
Prime Minister Theresa May, who attended the event, said:
Our world-leading Armed Forces work day and night to defend our country and our way of life, both at home and abroad.
In the aftermath of the Manchester attack, military personnel played a vital role on UK streets, providing visible reassurance to our communities. And further afield they continue to take the fight to Daesh in Iraq and Syria, helping to drive the terrorists back and give ordinary people in those countries the chance to rebuild their lives.
I am proud to have attended the Armed Forces Day celebrations in the great city of Liverpool this year, joining thousands of people in expressing our gratitude to the men and women who do so much to preserve our freedom.
Other guests in Liverpool included Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Gordon Messenger, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, hundreds of Service personnel, Cadets, veterans and thousands of members of the general public.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:
Today is a valuable opportunity to give something back to the Armed Forces community, which works so hard to keep us safe each and every day.
We have much to thank them for. In the last few years alone, our Armed Forces have fought Daesh terrorism, rescued thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean and helped protect us here at home.
I commend Liverpool for a spectacular event and thank organisers across the country for their efforts to mark Armed Forces Day.
The National Event began at 11am, with gun salutes heralding the start of the parade from St George’s Hall, accompanied by a flypast from an RAF Typhoon and ending with a flypast from the Red Arrows. The military villages then opened and visitors enjoyed an afternoon of exciting displays along the Pier Head including planes, helicopters, diving tanks, inflatable boats, tanks, a field hospital, simulators and marching bands. The Royal Navy’s type-23 frigate HMS Iron Duke has been docked in the city for the celebrations.
Later in Liverpool there were due to be flypasts by a Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Gun runs, Dragon boat racing and spectacular closing performance of Beat Retreat.
Liverpool’s Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said:
What an incredible event! It truly is a day of celebration, and from the start it has been a sea of colour and sound – a fantastic spectacle for everyone. It was wonderful to see serving personnel, side by side with cadets and veterans marching through Liverpool, cheered on by the crowds lining the streets.
This city has risen the occasion and I’m delighted to say we are giving the armed forced the ‘thank you’ they deserve.
As well as the national event in Liverpool, significant events have been organised across the country including in Caerphilly, Plymouth, Bangor (Northern Ireland) and Edinburgh. A number of smaller events from fetes to film screenings will take place, some of which will be held as far afield as the Falkland Islands and Cyprus.
UK Armed Forces are currently involved in over 20 operations in more than 25 countries, from South Sudan to Iraq. But many of those back at home will be in attendance at events across the country.
Also present will be many veterans that make-up the estimated 2.56 million Armed Forces veteran community living in the UK. Young Cadets will be present too; together the Sea, Army, and Air cadets have almost 100,000 members, many of which will be at events up and down the country.
UK businesses have showed their support too. The Royal Mail is postmarking Saturday’s mail with “Armed Forces Day 24 June 2017”, supermarket chain Morrisons is offering free drinks to Service Personnel and Toby Carvery are offering a free meal.