More than 50,000 people are thought to have turned out to show their support for Armed Forces Day in the South West of England.
The regional event in Plymouth, which attracted people from across the Westcountry and was one of many events held across the UK and around the world, opened in glorious sunshine with views over the glistening Plymouth Sound as the main national event took place in Llandudno.
The day began with tributes to the fallen, when distinguished guests and members of the Armed Forces laid wreaths at Plymouth’s war memorial, before a series of events in the main arena including Field Gun competitions and an Unarmed Combat Display by Royal Marines, 30 Commando Stonehouse, and an air display later in the afternoon.
TV star Carol Vorderman, Ambassador Honorary Group Captain of the RAF Air Cadets was among those to lay a wreath at the memorial as she joined the guests in the morning.
Major John Porter, of 165 Port & Maritime Regiment RLC, who is based at the Derriford Army Reserve Centre in Plymouth, said: “Today is a really important opportunity for us to connect with the people in Plymouth and showcase what we have to offer.”
He said it was a great opportunity to show people in the region what the service community does and what they have to offer.
He said there was a lot of support for the Armed Forces in the area and said that in the lead up to the event, military personnel had been visiting local schools and that this was an opportunity to engage with young people in Plymouth.
“It’s been a fantastic day as you can see by the weather and it’s been great for the public to come and see us on such a fine day.”
An air display that includes a line-up of planes from a Spitfire XIV and a Calidus Gyro entiretained the crowds later in the afternoon and a display of the Red Devils, the official British Army display team, are due to bring the day to a close
Visitors spent time wandering around the array of stalls in the grounds of Plymouth Hoe for Armed Forces Day, including displays by SSAFA - the Armed Forces charity, formerly known as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association – the Help for Heroes charity, and disaster relief organisation Team Rubicon UK, among many others.
Frank Howard, a Royal Air Force veteran, retired firefighter and prison officer from Princetown in Devon, said many visitors had been talking to him throughout the day, including many from around the world and as far afield as Canada.
He said: “Our role here is to promote Team Rubicon which is a disaster relief charity. We try to help out in the event of a natural disaster at home and overseas, helping communities get back to some sort of normality.”
Frank said a lot of former members of the services had shown an interest in the work of the charity which aims to utilise the skills of veterans and civilians alike.
Team Rubicon UK is made up of 70 per cent ex-military, 20 per cent “blue light services” and about 10 per cent civilians but Frank said that many former members of the Armed Forces like signing up with the charity when they leave the service because they “miss the banter.”
Displays, live music and other spectacular shows carried on during the evening in Plymouth with the Armed Forces Day expected to draw to a close by 10pm.