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‘A very special weekend’ – Armed Forces Day proves a hit in Falmouth

26 June 2023
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Under flawless Falmouth skies, there was a flawless performance by the men and women of the Armed Forces on their day.

The streets of the picture-postcard Cornish town were packed for the national celebration of all who serve – and have served – in the three Services.

They saw more than 1,100 military personnel, veterans and cadets march through the heart of Falmouth, just one standout moment on a day to remember on the South Coast.

Watched by The Duke of Gloucester, service personnel gave His Royal Highness a Royal Salute, before a flypast by the RAF Red Arrows, an A400M and Royal Navy Merlin helicopters brought formal proceedings to a close.

 Now in its 15th year, Armed Forces Day is the culmination of a week of events celebrating the Armed Forces community and all that they stand for, thanking them for defending our way of life, protecting British citizens around the world, and strengthening our relationships with our allies and partners.

It also recognises the service and sacrifices made by families of those personnel – acknowledged by His Majesty The King, who paid tribute to the “immense and dedicated” contribution of UK service personnel.

King Charles underscored “the selfless service and sacrifice” the Armed Forces make, whilst also thanking the wider Armed Forces community, including military families and veterans, for the role they play in allowing service personnel to fulfil their duties.

Upwards of 100,000 people are estimated to have converged on Falmouth over the weekend – pumping £7m into the local economy.

It’s the first time Cornwall has hosted the national event. Despite being one of the least populous counties, it still counts 39,000 inhabitants – one in 13 people – as veterans, with one in every five Cornish residents enjoying a personal or family connection to the Armed Forces.

By far the largest piece of military hardware on show was frigate HMS Richmond, berthed in Falmouth docks.

Some 6,000 tickets to tour the ship – open to the public on both days of the weekend – were snapped up long in advance of Armed Forces Day.

And the frigate used the ‘quiet’ Friday on the cusp of the weekend to host around 800 local school children interesting in studying STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – as they look to their futures.

 
This is a very special weekend for us – it’s a chance for us to show our ship off to both dignitaries and the public.

Commander Chris L’Amie

“Having the school children on board with their engagement, their enthusiasm, their willingness to learn, has been infectious,” said Commander Chris L’Amie, Richmond’s Commanding Officer.

The ship arrived in the Cornish port on the back of completing six weeks of grueling Operational Sea Training – determining whether the ship is ready to deploy around the world (she is) – so a welcome break for the 200 crew who’ve spent the past month and a half fighting fires, shoring up floods, fixing machinery and coping with mock war and disaster.

“This is a very special weekend for us – it’s a chance for us to show our ship off to both dignitaries and the public,” Commander L’Amie added.

“It’s always great to be able to show the people around, to show off the ship and her wonderful men and women, to show them where their taxpayers’ money goes and provides us with the great capabilities which HMS Richmond possesses.”

Among the senior VIPs and Military leaders attending were, the Hon Dr Andrew Murrison, Defence Minister for Defence People, Veterans and Service Families and General Gwyn Jenkins, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Armed Forces Day recognises the commitment and resilience demonstrated by our entire Armed Forces community every day of the year.

“I hope the entire nation will join me today in paying tribute to this community and recognise all those who make so many sacrifices to uphold the freedoms and rights of the British people.”

Cornwall Council leader Councillor Linda Taylor added: “The Armed Forces are at the heart of every Cornish community, and these celebrations are based on respect, admiration and real gratitude. Cornwall has always been of strategic importance – as guardian of the world’s busiest shipping lane, as an innovator of military invention, and as a proud home to service personnel and their families.”

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