Blackpool’s once again flying the flag for the forces, as the town pays tribute to those who’ve served their country.
The annual Armed Forces Week launched with the raising of the flag over Blackpool Town Hall, ahead of a packed programme of events.
A small crowd gathered for the event, with past and present personel from the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, as well as civic dignitaries on hand for the occasion which celebrates war heroes of all ages.
Standing to attention on Talbot Square, those gathered failed to have their spirits dampened by the rain as a blustery wind kept the flag flying high over the building.
A Warton BAE Systems-built Eurofighter Typhoon added to the occasion with a flypast over the square.
Mayor Coun Peter Callow, who served in the Fleet Air Arm on board the HMS Ark Royal and HMS Centaur for seven years and for three years as a reservist, helped get the event under way.
The Forces must be honoured, as must the people who have been killed serving their country
“The Forces must be honoured, as must the people who have been killed serving their country,” he said.
“I was in the Fleet Air Arm in peace time, and even then we had so many planes crash landed on board and air crew killed during peace time, and ground crews injured and maimed in their work.
“People are very service-orientated in Blackpool and that’s why we make such a thing of it, and we are proud of that.”
Yesterday’s celebrations closed with Music For Heroes at the Opera House,
In the ninth year of Armed Forces Week, hundreds of veterans and service personel are set to visit the resort for the showing of pride in their work.
Coun Chris Ryan, Armed Forces Week committee chairman, said: “Armed Forces Week promises to be a real treat for visitors, local people, veterans and service personnel alike and I hope people will flock to Blackpool and salute and honour our veterans and service personnel.”
Throughout the week there are events around the town, including a career information day at Blackpool Central Library and a matinee We’ll Meet Again show, from local producer Duggie Chapman, at Viva Blackpool tomorrow. On Wednesday, there’s an afternoon tea dance at Blackpool Tower and a free evening of entertainment at Marton Institute.
A special war time experience awaits schoolchildren at the Odeon cinema today until Thursday, Going To The Flicks will include wartime films and talks from military personel.
A Grand Gala Dinner takes place on Friday, following the Service of Dedication at the Fylde Memorial Arboretum at Moore Park, in memory of local residents killed in service.
On Saturday, national Armed Forces Day, St John’s Square and the Promenade will host ‘interactive, fun-filled and educational’ events, with military vehicles and displays from modern and historical eras – including a Spitfire, a Royal Navy helicopter, a replica Messerschmitt, as well as the chance to speak to Second World War Navy veterans.
There will be a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter air display as well as a Spitfire flypast, and the day closes at the Norbreck Hotel, with the Armed Forces Day Military Concert featuring the Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (Lancashire).
The final events will be the Blackpool Taxi Pull as local cabbies show off their strength for Forces’ charities, and the Sunday morning service and parade.
• For more event details, visit www.armedforcesweek.co.uk.