‘It underpins the spirit of Lowestoft’ - town turns out to support Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day 2016 in Lowestoft.

Armed Forces Day 2016 in Lowestoft. - Credit: Archant

Lowestoft came out in force to commemorate those who have fought and died for their country as an emotional day of activities was held to mark Armed Forces Day.

Armed Forces Day 2016 in Lowestoft.

Armed Forces Day 2016 in Lowestoft. - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of people gathered to watch a full drumhead service conducted by the Reverend Michael Asquith on the town's Royal Green at midday on Saturday (June 25).

Prayers were said for military service personnel past, present and future, while a range of organisations took part in a parade of standard bearers and music was played by the City of Norwich and the Salvation Army pipe bands.

A planned flypast of a Spitfire, Yak52 and the Wildcats aerobatic display team had to be cancelled due to a rise in the cost of insurance following last year's Shoreham Air Show disaster.

But there was still plenty for visitors to do, including the chance to see inside a model of a Spitfire, try out equipment which today's Army use on the ground and see a display of military vehicles.

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Organisations like the Royal British Legion and Blesma, the military charity for limbless veterans, also held stalls to raise awareness about their work.

Victoria Schofield, who organised the event with Neil Ovenden, said the public's support for the day 'underpins the spirit of Lowestoft'.

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Miss Schofield, a member of the management committee at Lord Kitchener Holiday Memorial Centre, added: 'I have been blown away by people's support.

'The threat of the weather kept a few people away but there was still a great turnout and more people than 2015.

'It is a significant event that is really important to people here. It is great to see many standard bearers. It always makes me emotional.

'Their commitment and support is a consistent reflection that people in Lowesoft are really proud to be part of that.'

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said the Lowestoft event was one of the most high-profile Armed Forces Day commemorations in the region.

'It is indicative of the respect and the strong feeling of attachment people have for the armed forces,' he said.

'The service was extremely poignant and thought-provoking. An awful lot goes into putting this event on and it is all done by volunteers. They deserve a special thanks.'

Lowestoft mayor Nick Webb said: 'It was an absolutely superb day as always. It is one of the highlight of the year on the mayoral calendar for me.

'The public always seems to turn out for this year after year. It is important to keep supporting our veterans past, present and future. Long may it continue.'

Tom Bradley, poppy appeal organiser for the Lowestoft branch of the Royal British Legion, said: 'I think it's a fantastic event.

'We have got to make sure the younger people know what people did for this country through the wars. If it wasn't for them, this country wouldn't be free.'

Simeon Mayou, who fought in the Battle of the Atlantic and D-Day during the Second World War and on Saturday was on the Royal Naval Patrol Service Association stand, said: 'We should never forget what the armed forces do. They are the guardians or our security. We need the armed forces.'

Bob Monkhouse, a trustee for Blesma from Oulton Broad who lost his leg while serving as a recovery mechanic in Bosnia in 1995, said the event was a good way for the charity to raise awareness.

Have you got a Lowestoft story? Email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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