Thousands of people have shown their support for Service personnel at the Armed Forces Day 2012 national event in Plymouth today.
His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, representing The Queen and the Royal Family, took the salute as a parade of more then 1,200 Service personnel, veterans and cadets marched through the city streets and on to the historic Plymouth Hoe.
Also in attendance were the Prime Minister; the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Michael Wright; Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans Andrew Robathan; and the First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope.
Following the parade a drumhead service took place, paying tribute to the Armed Forces past and present, and an Armed Forces Community Covenant for Plymouth was signed by the Lord Mayor and Service representatives. A flypast of Second World War Hawker Sea Fury aircraft from the Royal Naval Historic Flight concluded the service.
This afternoon, the Royal Navy type-23 frigate HMS Argyll will perform a steampast through Plymouth Sound and fire a 21-gun salute in honour of The Earl of Wessex.
Following HMS Argyll was the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay, filled with children from local schools and their families, as members of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery fired a gun salute on behalf of Plymouth from the battlements of the Royal Citadel.
A spectacular air show by RAF Typhoon aircraft and the Red Arrows concluded the day.
Speaking at the event, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope said:
I’m delighted to be taking part in the national celebrations in Plymouth for Armed Forces Day, and showing my support alongside the many thousands gathered here for our Servicemen and women.
People across the country from all ages and backgrounds have a deep respect and appreciation for the Armed Forces, and Armed Forces Day is an excellent opportunity for us all to let our men and women realise how much they are appreciated.
Alongside the celebrations in Plymouth, more than 200 events were held as part of Armed Forces Day across the UK.
Taking place in towns and cities across the country, they included events as diverse as parades, a ‘Proms in the Park’, an extreme fit challenge, and special rugby matches.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards will attend an Armed Forces Day event at Deepcut in Surrey. Speaking ahead of the event Mr Hammond said:
On Armed Forces Day the community of Serving Personnel, Reservists, Cadets and Veterans and their families are at the forefront of our thoughts. The day is a simple way of saying thank you to the Armed Forces for all they do for the country, whether that is on home soil or whether that is on frontline operations in Afghanistan.
Our Armed Forces make many sacrifices for their country and by showing our support for them on this day demonstrates the high esteem in which we hold the Armed Forces and all their endeavours.
I would urge everyone who can attend an event to do so, to demonstrate the high regard in which the Armed Forces is held.
Earlier today, the Olympic torch relay was given an Armed Forces Day flavour when Victoria Cross holder Corporal Johnson Beharry VC took part in the relay as it passed through the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Accompanied by the Band of the Irish Guards and soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, Cpl Beharry carried the torch through the Arboretum up to the top of the Armed Forces Memorial, which commemorates all members of the Armed Forces who have lost their lives while on duty since 1948.
Armed Forces Day is an annual campaign aimed at celebrating the outstanding contribution of our Servicemen and women, past and present, to the life of the country.
Plymouth is host for this year’s Armed Forces Day national event. The first Armed Forces Day national event was held at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham in 2009. Subsequent national celebrations were held in Cardiff in 2010 and Edinburgh in 2011.