Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Heroes celebrated in flag-raising ceremony

Dozens of war veterans donned their uniforms and polished up their medals before taking their place at a special flag raising ceremony in the city to mark the start of Armed Forces Week.
As the clock struck 10.30am the new Armed Forces Flag was hoisted high above City Hall - and in a number of other towns and villages throughout the region yesterday - to commemorate the start of a week-long series of events to celebrate the work of the region's servicemen past and present.
The specially created flag, based on the Union flag design, will be flying above the city until Armed Forces Day on Saturday.
The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Eve Collishaw, and Sheriff of Norwich, Tim O'Riordan were among the civic dignitaries present to mark the occasion.
The Lord Mayor, who gave a welcome speech at the start, said: “Armed Forces Day will be an opportunity for the whole nation to show its appreciation for the contribution made by all those who serve or have served in Her Majesty's Armed Forces.”
She added: “It is great to be able to celebrate everyone's bravery and hard work. Armed Forces Week gives us the opportunity to say thank you to those who have fought for us, and those who are still in action.”
Members of the public were also invited to attend yesterday's event which included a procession involving standard bearers, representatives from RAF Marham, and also the Royal Anglian Regiment.
RAF Marham's station commander Group Captain Colin Basnett added: “Armed Forces Day is an opportunity for the public to show its support and recognition for the outstanding contribution that our Armed Forces have made in the past and are making today to defend the UK and its interests and to secure international peace and security.
“It was an honour to be present at the first Armed Forces Day flag raising ceremony at City Hall and to see so many people showing their appreciation for the hard work and sacrifices made by the Armed Forces.”
Elsewhere, communities across Norfolk and Suffolk held similar ceremonies aimed at honouring all the soldiers, sailors and airmen and women past and present who have dedicated their lives to serving their county.
Rowland Hall, president of the Royal British Legion's Dereham and district branch, raised the flag outside Breckland Council's offices in Dereham watched by representatives from RAF Marham, the Swanton Morley-based Light Dragoons and the council.
Dereham Town Council also raised its Armed Forces Day flag yesterday in the Market Place but the flag will be officially raised and dedicated on Saturday.Yesterday there were also ceremonies at Yarmouth's town hall where Michael Falcon, high steward of Yarmouth and who served with the Norfolk Regiment, and Harry McGee, former military police man and freeman of the borough, raised the Armed Forces Day flag, while Sara Michell, chairman of Mid Suffolk District Council, raised the flag at Needham Market.
In Watton members of the town's council, the Watton branch of the Royal British Legion, Royal Air Forces Association, Air Training Corps and Army Cadets watched the flag being raised at the clock tower. On Lowestoft's Royal Plain Alan Duce and a cadet raised the Armed Forces Day flag, and a local veteran and a current serving member of the forces raised the Union flag.
The first annual Armed Forces Day takes place this Saturday and replaces Veterans Day as a day of celebration, support and commemoration for the public to honour the men and women who serve or have served in Her Majesty's Armed Forces. Norwich marks this occasion on the evening of the 27th by holding a civic reception, organised by Norfolk County Council, in which the Lord Mayor will present one hundred former service personnel with HM Armed Forces Veteran Badges that these former servicemen will wear with pride.
The week culminates on Sunday with a Veterans' Awareness Day which takes place on Millennium Plain between 9.30am and 4pm. The celebration of the important contribution that veterans have made to society and includes parades, bands, stalls, vintage vehicles and exhibition uniforms.
A parade begins at 11am from Chapel Field East, moving through the city centre past City Hall, where the Lord Mayor will take the salute and examine the guard before the parade moves on to Gentleman's Walk. There will then be a band playing on Hay Hill, with the festivities ending at 2pm.

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