PICTURE GALLERY: Aerobatics and poignant services mark Armed Forces Day in Lowestoft

AN aerobatics display, military bands and traditional parades all helped to provide a colourful and fitting tribute to serving men and women at an Armed Forces Day celebration in Lowestoft.

Scores of people gathered on Royal Green on Saturday to enjoy the event, while paying respects to the work of the British Army, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy and other military services.

As families mingled with medal-clad veterans, there was a sense of excitement as people took in this year's displays – including the Spitfire MK805, an artillery gun presented by the Colchester-based 7th Parachute Regiment RHA, and a fly-past by the YAK 52, piloted by Nigel Wilson.

But there were also tears from some veterans when the Rev Andrew White conducted the Drumhead service of Commemoration – a church service traditionally carried out near the field of battle.

Major General John Sutherell, who represented Lord Tollemache, Lord-Lieutenant of Suffolk, said the day gave the armed forces the chance to engage with the public.

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He said: 'It is the opportunity for the armed forces in the wider sense, and the organisations linked to them, to present themselves to the public – and the opportunity for the public to show their recognition as well.'

The organisations taking part in parades and displays included the band of the 469 (Lowestoft) Squadron Air Training Corps; the (Lowestoft TS Europa) Sea Cadet Corps; Southwold and Reydon Corps of Drums; B Company Army Cadet Corps; the Royal British Legion (Harwich) pipe band; The Salvation Army Band and a military-themed performance by the Cantors Theatre School. There were also stands set up on Royal Green, including a display of military vehicles and weapons by the Lowestoft Memorial Museum.

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Leo Whisstock, co-organiser of the event and secretary of the Lowestoft and District Combined Ex-Services Association, said: 'The day is about bringing the forces into the public eye.

'We often hear in the media about the armed forces facing government cuts, or people being killed in Afghanistan, but it is also good for the public to meet them and get feedback both ways.'

As well as the Spitfire, other new additions at this year's event were the US Air Force from RAF Mildenhall and the Halesworth and District Model Engineering Society, which offered rides on traction engines along the seafront.

Mayor of Lowestoft Nick Webb said Armed Forces Day was also a chance to pay tribute to the families of service personnel.

'It is huge that we support our armed forces, both our serving forces and our cadets because they are the future – but not forgetting service families. They play a massive role in supporting the troops,' he said

'The work they do gets filtered back to the guys on the front line.'

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