Poignant ceremonies in Lowestoft

VETERANS and members of their families gathered at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club in Lowestoft yesterday to mark tomorrow's Armed Forces Day.

VETERANS and members of their families gathered at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club in Lowestoft yesterday to mark tomorrow's Armed Forces Day.

The former members of the armed forces were joined by Lowestoft mayor Frank Mortimer, Waveney MP Bob Blizzard and under secretary of state for defence and minister for veterans Kevan Jones, for the special reception. The Rev Tom Hawthorn, Tommy Knott and Edward Hyde-Clarke all gave presentations about their time in the forces.

Corton artist Douglas Farthing spoke about his time in Iraq this year and read testaments from four members of the TA Lowestoft Platoon, who have just left for Afghanistan.

'I think to let the veterans know what's happening at a lower level is quite important and get the message across that it really isn't much different today,' he said.

Certificates were presented to ex-services association leaders of the Royal British Legion, Lowestoft and District Ex-Services Association, Suffolk Regiment OCA, RAFA and Royal Artillery Association, while Desmond Barnard and Tommy Knott were presented with veterans' badges.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said: 'Although every year we gather at the war memorial to remember those who gave their lives, I always felt we also needed to find a way to recognise those who fought and came back and also those who didn't fight but were prepared to fight by virtue of them serving in the armed forces.'

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Armed Forces Day has replaced Veterans Day as an opportunity for the nation to show its support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community, from new recruits through to veterans and their families. Mr Jones said: 'The best bit of my job is meeting the veterans, both young and old. It is good to recognise both those who serve on our behalf today and say thank you to the veterans. We are keen to make sure younger generations learn from the veterans and recognise what they did.'

On Monday the week of events to mark the day began with a flag raising ceremony at Royal Plain. Lowestoft joined with other towns and cities as the Armed Forces Day flag was raised to honour soldiers, sailors and airmen and women who have dedicated their lives to serving their country.

Tomorrow Armed Forces Day will be marked in Lowestoft with a special event on Royal Green. From 10am there will be a series of displays, music and ceremonies, including a flypast featuring four Tutor 115E aircraft from RAF Wyton.

At noon there will be a service of remembrance to mark the event followed by a presentation by the RBL and Alan Duce, chairman of Waveney District Council, to the Cadet services.

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