It was again a great pleasure for North Kesteven to take the lead in local celebrations and commemorations for Armed Forces Week.
By flying the flag, awarding our veterans, engaging with children and drawing in the wider community, I hope that once again we have shown to our local Service personnel our mutual support, respect and appreciation for all that they do in our name, the dangers they face and privations they suffer.
Armed Forces Week is also an opportunity for the Forces to reach out to the communities they are an essential part of and to that end I feel that by standing shoulder to shoulder we have each expressed our thanks for the other.
This was the tenth year in which NK has actively engaged in Armed Forces Week by arranging a series of events, which stretch beyond the designated Armed Forces Day.
Our main emphasis is always the award of Veteran’s Badges to those who have given Service over the decades but who left the Forces before these badges became an automatic gesture on retirement.
In that time we have arranged for almost 600 badges to be given to men and women who have served across all areas of the Armed Forces and although we thought that there was no one left to gift the badges to, this year we were thrilled to receive 30 applications.
With some already requesting presentation in Armed Forces Week 2016, it is with great pleasure that we anticipate further celebrations and commemorations next year.
Among the 12 Veteran’s Badge recipients who joined us at last Friday’s Veterans’ Evening were residents of North Kesteven and much further beyond – including a Normandy Veteran from Peterborough and others from West Lindsey and Nottinghamshire. As one of the few councils which continue to honour veterans in this way, it is a pleasure to have welcomed them to our celebration of veterans’ loyalty and dedication.
We heard moving remarks from the station commanders of both RAF Digby and RAF Cranwell who reminded us of the integral bonds between Forces and civilian communities and our compere Howard Leader, himself a Squadron Leader, spoke eloquently of how we should each hold the other close to our hearts.
It was the appreciation expressed by badge recipient Tony Garner that struck me most. After 22 years in the RAF and 20 years in civilian life, he felt that last Friday’s function surpassed any he had experienced during his Service. “I am sad for those of my former colleagues who had received their veterans pins through the post, without any fanfare or recognition for the time that they spent in the armed forces,” he said. “They had not experienced what I did on Friday evening, where for the first time in 20 years I felt I was part of a special team who had finally got recognition for what they had done in the service for their country.
“Please keep on doing this for the veterans. Thank you to all the people who made this possible,” he said.
With the memorial spire to Bomber Command in place at the north of the District and preparations afoot for a series of key centennial commemorations relating to the RAF in our District, it will be our pleasure to keep the flag flying for our Armed Forces.