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Bury St Edmunds raises Armed Forces Day flag



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Serving and retired troops joined with civic dignitaries to raise the Armed Forces Day flag over Bury St Edmunds today.

The rain forced the ceremony to be relocated from its usual spot on Angel Hill to underneath the Abbey Gate, as the flag – which will fly until Armed Forces Day on Saturday – was raised in the Abbey Gatehouse’s flagpole above.

Armed Forces Day in Bury St Edmunds
Armed Forces Day in Bury St Edmunds

The Mayor’s Chaplain Canon Mark Hackeson led prayers to all servicemen and women who have died, suffered injury or are still in active service.

Readings from the Mayor of St Edmundsbury Julia Wakelam and the chairman of the Royal British Legion Bury branch David Kemp followed before a bugle played the Last Post, signalling the start of two minutes’ silence, and standard bearers lowered their colours.

The Reville was played and the Kohima Prayer read – when you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today’ – before the National Anthem was sung, bringing the service to an end.

All of the armed forces were represented, as well as veteran and civilian associations.

Armed Forces Day in Bury St Edmunds
Armed Forces Day in Bury St Edmunds

On why he was there, Christopher Spicer, a former borough councillor, said: “Because I’m grateful for what the armed services do and I think we should remember them. They are there to make peace, not to make war, which I think is important, and long may they carry on looking after our interests and the interests of the wider world too.”

Cllr Andrew Speed said: “As chairman of the town council, I would say, with the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme just two weeks away, it’s more important than ever to remember the role the armed forces have played and continue to play in protecting the things we value in life.”

Lord Tebbit, of Bury, was also in attendance, wearing his RAF tie and carrying his RAF umbrella.

On why it was so important to him, he said: “Because of the debt that we owe to our servicemen. It’s a long time since I was in the Royal Air Force but I never forget and shall be eternally grateful.”

The Mayor of St Edmundsbury, Cllr Julia Wakelam at Armed Forces Day in Bury St Edmunds
The Mayor of St Edmundsbury, Cllr Julia Wakelam at Armed Forces Day in Bury St Edmunds

Cllr Tom Murray wore his grandfather’s and father’s service medals to the ceremony to honour everyone who had made ‘the ultimate sacrifice’.

He said: “I have always appreciated what the armed forces do for all of us, same as with the ambulance and fire brigade – when we’re all running out, they’re running in.”

Of today’s service, Cllr Wakelam said: “I thought it was moving.”

She added: “It’s important for those people who have served in the forces and those currently serving that we remember them and remind them that we are thinking of them because I think that often, unless there’s a crisis, they just get on with their work, but they are looking after our country. It’s also wonderful the way the old servicemen and women turn up.”

Armed Forces Day in Bury St Edmunds
Armed Forces Day in Bury St Edmunds

A free event to mark Armed Forces Day in Suffolk will be held in Stowmarket on Saturday. It will start with a parade from Red Gables to arrive at Pikes Meadow at noon, with an afternoon and evening of activities and performances from Wattisham and Honington Military Wives Choirs, community bands, cadet forces and the Suffolk Regiment Re-enactment Group to follow. Military heritage vehicles will also be on show.

David Kemp, chairman of the RBL Bury branch, at Armed Forces Day in Bury St Edmunds
David Kemp, chairman of the RBL Bury branch, at Armed Forces Day in Bury St Edmunds