Rotherham's annual salute to Armed Forces returns

Published Tuesday, 11th June 2019
Armed forces day
Servicemen and women

Rotherham town centre will once again host one of the region’s biggest celebrations for Armed Forces Day on Saturday 29 June.

The annual action-packed event will be launched with a charity concert at Rotherham Minster the evening before (Friday 28 June) with big band and choir performances. The day itself will begin with a traditional parade from Rotherham Town Hall led by The Band of the Royal Armoured Corps, followed by a Service of Worship to remember those who died, and to give thanks to veterans and active servicemen and women.

A flypast of a Second World War Dakota of the Battle of Britain memorial flight is also planned, weather depending, and visitors can enjoy displays of military and vintage vehicles, First and Second World War re-enactments, live music, stalls and family activities will also be on throughout the afternoon.

The official Armed Forces Day flag will be raised by Douglas Watson, who piloted British troop-carrying Horsa Gliders during the Second World War.

Also marking the occasion is a special display inside Rotherham Town Hall documenting the fascinating military life of Harry Draper, the father of Mayor of Rotherham, Cllr Jenny Andrews, which is running from now until the end of the month. Harry served with the 1st/4th Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) during the Second World War, and central to the display will be his diary from 1942 during the Iceland Campaign, in which Harry and his comrades defended Britain’s last sea route from German occupation.

Mayor Cllr Andrews said, “I’m delighted to be able to personally contribute to marking the incredible work of the armed forces, past and present. I’m really proud to tell the story of my father, which is just like those of many other everyday people who went off to war, and the effect it had on them and their families.

“As Mayor, it is humbling to see our town pay such a special tribute to our military community, and that this is so well supported by people from across the borough. Armed Forces Day is certainly a highlight in the Rotherham calendar.”

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. Local and town centre businesses are also supporting the event, through sponsorship and shop window displays.

School children from across the borough have also been preparing for the day by designing posters as their way of saying ‘thanks’ to the Armed Forces as part of a competition run by Rotherham Council. The competition was judged by Mayor Jenny Andrews, Mayoress Jeanette Mallinder, Rotherham Council’s Armed Forces Champion Cllr Ian Jones, and Victoria Dawes, Learning Officer at Clifton Park Museum. The successful pupils and their families have been invited to join the Mayor as her guests at Armed Forces Day.

Shokat Lal, Assistant Chief Executive of Rotherham Council said: “We’re really proud that Rotherham is home to one of the biggest celebrations of our military community. Armed Forces Day is a great opportunity for us to all come together to remember and thank those who have fought for our country as well as those who are currently serving.”

Cllr Ian Jones added: “Armed Forces Day in Rotherham is always a memorable day for veterans and their families, and gives everyone a chance to thank them. The day shows Rotherham as a united force, coming out as one to help support the brave men and women who are giving their all with pride and dignity.

“It’s great to see the town centre filled with families enjoying the celebrations, and I know that Armed Forces Day will be an emotional, but truly proud day for us all.”

Visitors on the day can take advantage of free parking in the Drummond Street, Forge Island and Wellgate Multi-storey car parks, and enjoy shopping and leisure activities around the centre.