Countdown to Armed Forces Day 2011 begins

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

There is exactly one month to go until this year's Armed Forces Day.

Armed Forces Day (AFD) 2011 will be held on Saturday 25 June, with events set to take place up and down the country over the two-week period from 18 June to 3 July.

At the national event, Edinburgh will host a full weekend of AFD-related activities, starting on Friday 24 through to Sunday 26 June.

Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, said:

I am delighted to be in Edinburgh again this year, now as Chief of the Defence Staff, to take part in the national event celebrations.

Armed Forces Day is in its third year, and, from the start, has inspired the Nation to show its support for the servicemen and women of the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force at events across the country.

Time and again these individuals inspire us with their courage and professionalism. In recent years their achievements in operational theatres around the world, not least Afghanistan but recently also in Libya, have brought home to all of us what extraordinary people they are, especially when many have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.

It is not just serving personnel who we pay tribute to on Armed Forces Day, but the wider forces community: Service families, veterans of all ages, the Cadet Forces, and the adult volunteers who support them. All deserve our praise and support on this special day.

Once again, a whole host of celebrity names have signed up to support AFD, and this year’s line-up will include David Beckham, the cast of Emmerdale, Katherine Jenkins, and Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton.

In host city Edinburgh, events will begin in Leith on the afternoon of Friday 24 June, including tours of HMS Portland, a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate, and various water-based displays in Leith Docks, culminating in a full display by the Red Arrows over the Firth of Forth. There will also be the opportunity to watch a Royal Marines Commando display, a Royal Navy field gun display, and displays by cadets.

On Armed Forces Day itself, 25 June, a parade of up to 1,500 serving personnel, veterans and cadets will march down the Royal Mile from the Castle Esplanade to Holyrood Park. The parade will end with a short ceremony of thanks - a Drumhead Ceremony - and this will be followed by a packed afternoon of events and family entertainment, including flypasts by military aircraft, Highland dancing, music and a Veterans’ Village.

The day’s celebrations will end with a Beating Retreat, a long-standing military tradition which now marks the end of a ceremonial occasion.

In collaboration with the Armed Forces Day cultural programme, the Edinburgh International Film Festival will be screening the UK premiere of Danfung Dennis’s award-winning feature film ‘Hell and Back Again’, about a US Marine Sergeant, severely injured during an assault on the Taliban in Afghanistan, and his struggle to rehabilitate and reintegrate into civilian life upon his return to North Carolina.

Further celebrations are planned on Sunday 26 June, including a military fitness session, Massed Pipes and Drums, and a Battle of the Bands competition.

Local events scheduled to take place between 18 June and 3 July range from parades and fairs to dinners and dancing, to a taxi-pull challenge. To find your nearest event, see Related Links to visit the Armed Forces Day website.

The aim of AFD is to boost public support and appreciation of all those who serve and have served in HM Armed Forces. It provides an opportunity for the UK public to recognise the contribution that the Armed Forces community make, and have made, and for the Armed Forces and veterans to know that they are valued and enjoy the respect and support of both the Government and the Nation.

Further raising awareness of the Armed Forces in our communities, ‘Uniform to Work Day’ will be held on Wednesday 22 June 2011. This will apply to all Reserve Forces personnel and Regular Service personnel who do not normally wear their uniform when on duty or at work.

In parallel with ‘Uniform at Work Day’, on Wednesday 22 June, veterans employed at MOD establishments will be encouraged to wear their HM Armed Forces Veterans Badges. Promoting this concept will encourage eligible others to apply for their Veterans Badges and increase awareness of the valuable contribution veterans continue to make in the workplace after leaving the Armed Forces.

There are lots of simple ways for you to show your support for Armed Forces Day 2011 if you are not able to attend the national event:

• there are hundreds of local and community events taking place across the UK, including street parties, parades and concerts;

• ‘Fly a Flag’ for Armed Forces Day - buy through the official AFD supplier (see Related Links);

• join nearly 850,000 current followers that have already signed up to the AFD Facebook page in support of the event (see Related Links) -post photos and leave messages of support for forces personnel and veterans on the website;

• register your name/event to keep in touch online and get a free AFD window sticker.

For further information on official events, and how you can get invoved, see the official Armed Forces Day website at Related Links.