An abseil down the front of an iconic Leeds building and a stunning flyover by a Spitfire plane are just two of the fantastic events set to feature in this year’s Armed Forces Day.
Held this Saturday June 28 as part of national celebrations being held in towns and cities across the United Kingdom, Leeds will show its own appreciation for the dedication, professionalism and bravery of the Armed Forces with a range of activities and attractions from 10.45am-4pm.
Earlier this week, the Armed Forces Day flag was raised in Victoria Gardens, and on top of Leeds Civic Hall and Leeds Town Hall.
Coun Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said: “We are extremely proud as a city to be holding our very own Armed forces Day celebrations on June 28, which is a chance to say a big thank you to all of our veterans and serving men and women who day in, day out, do their job with such outstanding courage, dedication and commitment. This is especially poignant as we reflect this year on the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the commemorations marking the beginning of the First World War 100 years ago.
“Leeds has historic ties with the military, and with that in mind it is really fantastic that as part of the day, the bell from the now decommissioned HMS Ark Royal, which was a ship intrinsically linked with the people of our city for many, many years, will also be on display.”
Kicking-off the free event is WO2 Dave Bellamy from 299 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers, who will be abseiling down the front of Leeds Town Hall at 10.45am. On touching the ground, he will then present the Lord Mayor of Leeds Coun David Congreve who is hosting the event, and the city’s Children’s Lord Mayor Charlotte Williams, with the Armed Forces Day flag.
This will be followed at noon by a parade past Victoria Gardens on the Headrow by representatives from each military service and music from the South and West Yorkshire Wing Air Cadet Organisation.
Also on offer at Victoria Gardens will be a range of family-friendly activities, including a Breeze Boot Camp and crafts. Children and young people can also show their support and experience just what it takes to become a member of the armed forces, by taking on the challenge of a climbing wall. A range of displays are also to be available on Victoria Gardens. These will include a 24 tonnes Multiple Launch Rocket System and an exhibition of nearly 1,800 badges including 1,200 cap badges from the private collection of Sgt Jason Townend of the Royal Mechanical Engineers.
A host of military linked stalls and an opportunity to meet veterans of all ages will also be available and what promises to be something not to be missed, a legendary Spitfire will make three passes above the Headrow and over Leeds Town Hall before circling Millennium Square at approximately 2.45pm.
The city’s historic link with the HMS Ark Royal which was decommissioned in 2011 will also be celebrated, as the bell from the famous ship will also be on display. In 1942, the people of Leeds raised £9m to help build the third HMS Ark Royal. Musical entertainment during the day will also be provided by the Majorettes performing wartime classics and the Rothwell Temperance Band.
Coun Graham Hyde, Leeds City Council’s chair of the armed forces member champion group said: “The amount of time, effort and hard work that has gone into making this year’s event a reality has been unbelievable. I would like to thank every single person, group, organisation and each service of the military for their help in putting together what is a brilliant programme of events.
“It would be impossible to name everything that is happening on the day, but I personally cannot wait to see the abseil down the front of Leeds Town Hall by WO2 Dave Bellamy and a spectacular flyover of the city centre by a legendary Spitfire plane. These events will accompany a range of family-friendly activities also set to be held at Victoria Gardens.”
The city of Leeds has close ties with the British Armed Forces, and in 2012 signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant strengthening this partnership. This covenant, this ensures that a wide range of support, help and guidance is available to in-service personnel, veterans and their families.
Paul Thompson, Chairman of the Yorkshire Malayan & Borneo Veterans Association said: “We are extremely proud at the Yorkshire Malayan & Borneo Veterans Association to be part of the city’s Armed Forces Day celebrations.
“There will be lots to see and do, and on the day we are looking forward to hosting a stall which will detail the part that members of our association played in the sometimes forgotten Malay and Borneo conflicts.”