Spectacular weekend as Armed Forces Day takes Edinburgh by storm
This year’s UK Armed Forces Day national event in Edinburgh has witnessed some of the most spectacular military displays ever seen in the United Kingdom.It is estimated that 100,000 people will have watched the full three days of Armed Forces Day events, in partnership with sponsors BAE Systems and Finmeccanica, which draws to a close tomorrow (26 June).
And today it was officially announced today that Plymouth will host next year's celebrations.
The Rt Hon George Grubb, Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, said: "This weekend has been very special and I'm delighted that the people of Edinburgh came out in such large numbers to show their support to our Armed Forces.
"I am sure the Red Arrows display over the Firth of Forth last night and today's parade down the Royal Mile by up to 2,500 service personnel, veterans and cadets will live long in the memory for everyone who was there."
Council Leader Jenny Dawe said: "Edinburgh has once again enhanced its reputation as a city famous for putting on large scale events. I'm really pleased that all the hard work by the Council, its partners and sponsors has resulted in this weekend being such a success."
Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, said: "Edinburgh has put on a truly magnificent event for the Armed Forces. Seeing so many people turn up to show their respect and gratitude by filling the streets, and Holyrood Park with cheers and waving flags has been a great boost to all those proud to serve.
"I am sure I speak for all Servicemen and women in saying that this day will be a terrific boost to morale, which is so vital in helping them to carry out their duties, both at home and abroad. I thank the people of Edinburgh."
First Minister Alex Salmond said: "This weekend's Armed Forces Day celebrations have been a fitting recognition of the contribution made by our service personnel and veterans. The events in Edinburgh have been enjoyed by thousands and I've been privileged to be among them.
"Scotland's armed forces and veterans are valued members of our communities and this has been a welcome chance to say thank you to them. Edinburgh has been a wonderful focus of the nationwide celebrations and, like me, I'm sure the thousands of people who have lined the streets here have been grateful for the chance to show our military men and women how much we appreciate their service."
Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, said: "I am absolutely delighted to be here in Edinburgh to celebrate Armed Forces Day at this wonderful event organised by the City of Edinburgh Council. Armed Forces Day is an excellent opportunity for people to show their respect and gratitude to members of the Armed Forces and the challenging jobs they do, often in difficult circumstances.
"It is heart-warming to see the crowds here at the national event and to watch the spectacular displays that have been organised. I am extremely proud to be able to be here to join the public in showing support for the Armed Forces."
Colonel Martin Gibson, chairman of Veterans Scotland, said: "Veterans from throughout Great Britain have rallied to participate in this very special Armed Forces Day event in the capital city of Scotland. Over 1,500 veterans representing all three services, the Merchant Navy and War Widows were involved in today's march which took place in a welcoming atmosphere.
"It was a privilege for veterans to be part of this unique Armed Forces' recognition which is hugely valued by all those who served their country in the past."
Rupert Laing, one of the founders of DecAid said: "It's a great honour for DecAid to be part of the celebration of the Armed Forces in Edinburgh. There is no better platform for us to launch our appeal to mark the tenth anniversary of the Afghan conflict. We hope that the young people of Scotland will join us tomorrow to show their support for the service men and women who do so much for us."
Yesterday's highlights included a spectacular 24 minute display (thanks to AFD sponsors SELEX Galileo) by the Red Arrows over the Firth of Forth, tours of type 23 frigate HMS Portland, water-borne displays and marching military bands.
Today saw up to 2,500 service personnel, veterans and cadets, marching down the Royal Mile with His Royal Highness the Duke of Rothesay taking the salute, a poignant Drumhead Service, a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a packed afternoon of events and entertainment for the whole family in Holyrood Park.
Dignitaries who attended today's events in Edinburgh included Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, Prime Minister, First Minister, Defence Secretary, Scottish Secretary, Presiding Officer, Chief of the Defence Staff, President of Royal British Legion Scotland and Armed Forces champion Lorraine Kelly.
Tomorrow's events are being organised by DecAid to raise money for those affected by the war in Afghanistan. The day starts with a public military fitness session in Holyrood Park (anyone can join in), followed by a massed Pipes and Drums parade from the Castle Esplanade to Holyrood Park past the DecAid patron HRH The Duchess of Rothesay. The afternoon will include live acts on the big stage, headlined by Carrie Mac, a military style assault course and Veterans Village.
Also tomorrow night the Edinburgh International Film Festival will link up with Armed Forces Day to screen the premiere of award winning Hell and Back again, a war film like never seen before. The film is a gritty account of the conflict in Afghanistan, seen through the eyes of a US marine severely injured on the frontline, and his recovery at home. The film is free to military personnel, veterans and their families and will be followed by panel discussion with experts such as the film maker himself and former Major General Andrew Mackay who commanded Task Force Helmand in 2007/8.
The Armed Forces Day national event was staged thanks to funding from the Scottish Government, the City of Edinburgh Council and the Ministry of Defence. Other sponsorship was secured by Finmeccanica, BAE Systems, Force Protection, Royal British Legion, Compass Group, and SELEX Galileo.