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Veterans reunite ahead of Rotherham's biggest ever Armed Forces Day

Published on Monday, 19th June 2017 in Local history and heritage news

Military veterans and families of Rotherham and South Yorkshire Armed Forces came together to share stories and reunite with old friends during an afternoon tea at Rotherham Town Hall.

The get together, held by the Mayor of Rotherham, hosted representatives from all divisions of the Armed Forces, with members who had seen active military service in conflicts across the world, spanning 80 years – including the Falklands, Northern Ireland, Middle East and the Second World War.

The Leader of the Council, Cllr Chris Read, and Rotherham Council’s Chief Executive, Sharon Kemp, also got into the spirit of the day – donning pinnies to serve tea and chat with the guests!

The afternoon gave all members and families the chance to meet and look ahead to plans for Armed Forces Day, which is due to take place on Saturday 24 June, and is forecast to be the highest attended and biggest for Rotherham to date.

The Mayor of Rotherham, Cllr Eve Rose Keenan, said: “It was such a wonderful day and to meet all the veterans and their families and talk about their incredible life stories was really heart-warming, it even brought a tear to my eye.

“We owe so much to the service men and women who risk their lives for the safety and security of our nation, and I know Armed Forces Day will be an emotional, but truly proud day for us all.”

The celebration will take centre stage in the town centre with a packed line-up of entertainment and activities throughout the day and – for the first time – into the night, with a free music event in Clifton Park.

The traditional parade will start the proceedings from Rotherham Town Hall at 10.30am – led by the Mayor of Rotherham, the South Yorkshire Police Band and accompanied by Chestnut Troop 1 RHA (Royal Horse Artillery).

This will be followed by a ceremony to remember those who have given their lives for our country, and giving thanks to veterans and active servicemen and women for their contribution to the nation’s security.

The day will feature a Christian blessing and reading from the Koran, and the official Armed Forces Day flag will be raised by World War Two RAF veteran, Mr John Watkins.

Highlights in the afternoon include a dramatic flypast from the Lancaster Bomber from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight – scheduled for 12.50pm (weather permitting).

Cllr Ian Jones, who represents Rotherham West ward and is the council’s Armed Forces Champion, added: “This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever before, and we encourage people from across our community to come out in force, and stand together to show our support for our service men and women, past and present.”

Led by Rotherham Council, a wide range of organisations – including the Military Community and Veterans Centre (MCVC), voluntary groups and South Yorkshire Police - have worked together in partnership to deliver the event, which provides an opportunity for people of all ages, from all faiths and walks of life, to come together and celebrate locally this national occasion.

The Summer Proms in the Park event, which proved a big hit at last year’s Rotherham Show, will feature music from The Band of The Queens Division – starting from 7.30pm in Clifton Park.

Local community groups and retailers who are supporting the event include the Rotherham Together Partnership, Tesco, Costco, Fitzwilliam & Hughes, Pattersons Butchers and Greggs.

Free parking will be provided by the council in its official off-street car park, Forge Island, to encourage visitors to the event and promote the opportunities for shopping and leisure in the town centre during the day.

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