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Moving tribute to the armed forces on special sun baked day
The sun baked down on the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire as thousands of military personnel, their families and friends flocked to the UK's centre of Remembrance for this year's Armed Forces Day event. Held annually, Armed Forces Day recognises the outstanding contribution made by service men and women throughout the world, both those currently serving as well as veterans and cadets. A special and comprehensive programme of free family activities, musical entertainment, and stalls was organised for the Arboretum at Alrewas, near Lichfield, both on Armed Forces Day itself, on Saturday 29 June, but also on Sunday the 30th as well, with separate anticipated fly-pasts by World War Two aircraft.
The parade passes through the National Memorial Arboretum site
The weekend festivities began on Saturday with the first of a number of musical performances in Heroes' Square by mother and daughter duo, Sincerely Yours. That was followed by a procession of motorbikes representing the annual Ride To The Wall event which has now raised almost £1 million since the first charity ride to the Arboretum in 2008. The Band of the King's Division and The Band of the Royal Corps of Signals then took to the stage in Heroes' Square to herald the commencement of the Service of Tribute to commemorate Armed Forces Day 2019. The service consisted of prayers, poems and music, plus the presentation of a cheque for £150,000 from last year's Ride To The Wall event. All current or former serving members of the Armed Forces, cadets, and members of the emergency services then joined a parade led by the military bands and standard bearers to the Normandy Campaign Memorial, while wreaths were laid at the Armed Forces Memorial which forms the central focus of the Arboretum.
A battlefield demonstration by Defence Medical Services Whittington
Elsewhere on the Arboretum's 150 acre site a Veterans' Village featured various stalls from military charities and organisations, providing a forum for visitors to learn about the work of the Armed Forces, support services for veterans and the opportunity to discover the rich and varied stories of military personnel and their families. There was also a visit of a Battlefield Ambulance and staff from nearby Defence Medical Services Whittington which enabled visitors of all ages to see how battlefield wounds are treated. And for the many youngsters among the thousands of visitors, there were a number of exciting fun activities to have a go at, including a zip wire, archery, a mini assault course, a travelator, Segway course, a climbing wall, inflatable airbag, and forklift basketball.
Children try out the climbing wall in front of the Armed Forces Memorial
In addition, the programme included a series of informative talks on subjects ranging from Far East prisoners of war to the Shot at Dawn memorial which recognises those executed by firing squad during the First World War and subsequently pardoned. Throughout the day, as well as performances by Sincerely Yours, there was also the chance to enjoy a variety of refreshments around the site, including a well supported double decker bus bar. There was also a food and gift fair in the recently opened Aspects conference centre. For more information about the Arboretum, which is part of the Royal British Legion, please visit www.thenma.org.uk, call 01283 245100, or email firstname.lastname@example.org