Members of the military, dignitaries, representatives and standard bearers of the Royal British Legion and members of the public paid tribute to service personnel as Melton marked Britain’s National Armed Forces Day today (Monday).
The highlight of the event, which was organised by Melton Council in front of its Parkside offices, was the raising of a combined forces flag following a playing of the Last Post by bugler Phil Hardy.
Mayor of Melton Jeanne Douglas had earlier made a speech about the day and the flag was blessed by Rev Catriona Cumming and Rev Jane Carter.
Private Bradley Perry (28), a dog trainer and member of the Protection Training Section at Melton’s Defence Animal Centre (DAC), had the honour of raising the flag.
He said afterwards: “A lot of my family have served in the military, mainly in the RAF, so this was a very proud moment for me to be asked to raise the flag on such an important day.”
Dog trainers from the DAC stood with their animals in front of the flags in Heritage Gardens and close to sculptures of military working dogs erected to illustrate the borough’s link with the army camp.
Brigadier William Hurrell, Deputy Lieutenant for Leicestershire, made a speech at the ceremony on behalf of The Queen. He said afterwards: “To have those dog trainers and their animals and the mounted personnel standing to attention among those statues was poignant and very moving.”
In her welcome speech the mayor spoke about what ‘an honour and a privilege’ it was for her to host the event and lead Melton people in showing their support for the armed forces.
She also mentioned the service other local people outside the forces had given during times of conflict: “In times gone by, people of the borough served in the Land Army, Red Cross, Salvation Army, St John Ambulance and Home Guard and some trained in Melton at the time of the Second World War.”
The mayor read out a message sent by Lt Comm Stuart Yates and the crew of Melton’s affiliated mine sweeper HMS Quorn - representatives could not attend because the vessel is currently deployed with NATO in the Baltic Sea but they sent a White Ensign flag which had been flown during operations.
Part of it read: “We are extremely proud and honoured to be affiliated to the borough of Melton and are grateful for the strong support you all provide to HMS Quorn.
“We hope to be able to visit you all in the near future when we return to the UK, including exercising our Freedom of Entry to the borough.”
Guests enjoyed a reception buffet in the council offices following the ceremony, which ended with the bugler playing the National Anthem.