Aerobatics and poignant services mark Armed Forces Day in Lowestoft

A swooping aerobatics display and traditional parades provided a fitting tribute to serving men and women at Armed Forces Day in Lowestoft.

Scores of people descended on Royal Green on Saturday to indulge in the military pomp and extravagant regalia, while paying respect to the British Army, the Royal Airforce, the Royal Navy and the adjoining military services.

As families mingled with medal-clad veterans, there was a sense of excitement as people took in this year's displays including the Spitfire MK805, the artillery gun presented by the Colchester-based 7th Parachute Regiment RHA, and the fly past by the YAK 52 piloted by Nigel Wilson.

But there were also tears from some veterans when Rev Andrew White conducted the Drumhead service of Commemoration – a church service traditionally carried out near the field of battle.

Major General John Sutherell, who represented Lord Tollemache, Lord-Lieutenant of Suffolk, said the day gave the armed forces the chance to engage with the public.

Major Sutherell said: 'It is the opportunity for the armed forces in the wider sense, and the organisations linked to them, to present themselves to the public.

'And, the opportunity for the public to show their recognition as well.'

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The organisations taking part in parades and displays included, the band of the 469 (Lowestoft) Squadron Air Training Corps; the (Lowestoft T S Europa) Sea Cadet Corps; Southwold and Reydon Corps of Drums; B Company Army Cadet Corps; the Royal British Legion (Harwich) pipe band; The Salvation Army Band and a military-themed performance by the Cantors Theatre School.

Meanwhile, there were also stands from military services at Royal Green including a display of military vehicles and weapons by the Lowestoft Memorial Museum.

Leo Whisstock, co-organiser of the event and secretary of the Lowestoft and District Combined Ex-Serivces Association, said: 'The day is about bringing the forces into the public eye.

'We often hear in the media about the armed forces facing government cuts, or people being killed in Afghanistan, but it is also good for the public to meet them and get feed back both ways.'

As well as the Spitfire, the new additions to this year's Armed Forces Day were the US Airforce from RAF Mildenhall and the Halesworth and District Model Engineering Society who provided rides on traction engines up and down the seafront.

The mayor of Lowestoft, Nick Webb, said Armed Forces Day also paid tribute to the families of serving men and women.

He said: 'It is huge that we support our armed forces, both our serving forces and our cadets because they are the future.

'But not forgetting service families. They play a massive role in supporting the troops. The work they do gets filtered back to the guys on the front line.'

At present, the 1st Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment, known as the Vikings, and the Light Dragoons, based in Swanton Morley, near Dereham, Norfolk, are deployed in Afghanistan.

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