Thursday 16 March marked 100 days until Liverpool becomes the national focus for Armed Forces Day.
To mark the milestone, uniformed personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force gathered at the waterfront at 0900hrs to see a huge ‘100’ banner, complete with the tri-services ensigns, taking over the side of the Cunard Building. The banners were flanked by abseiling Royal Marine Reservists.
The unveiling comes as plans are well underway for Saturday 24 June with the city preparing to show its support and say thank you to the Armed Forces community – from currently serving troops, to service families, veterans and cadets.
A parade of around 1,000 serving personnel, veterans, cadets and marching bands will signal the start of the Armed Forces Day celebrations on the Saturday in June. Stepping-off from St George’s Hall plateau at 11am, the impressive display of colour and sound will travel through the city centre, culminating at Princes Parade where a salute will be given to a number of special guests and dignitaries.
Activities will take place across the waterfront with zones dedicated to all three military services. In these zones military assets will be showcased ranging from static aircraft, diving tank, survival equipment display, bomb disposal robot, RAF technology zone, tanks and armoured vehicles, right through to field operating theatre including a battle field ambulance, field catering demonstrations, field gun run, marching military bands, street theatre and family zones. (All assets are subject to operational requirements).
A Display Arena will be located next to Liverpool Cruise Liner passenger lounge which will give visitors the chance to see a number of capability demonstrations, ranging from Royal Marines unarmed combat display and military marching bands right through to RAF dog handling exercises, an Army bridge building demo and a field gun-race between a team from RAF Cosford and the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales (the city’s affiliated ship).
It is expected that a naval vessel will be docked at the Cruise Liner berth which will be open to visitors, and a number of fly pasts will take place throughout the day to wow the thousands who are expected to head to the waterfront. Topping the bill of the aviation assets will be the Red Arrows, alongside jets and helicopters currently in service and historic aircraft from the RN and RAF’s illustrious past.
Making the event possible is headline sponsor Cammell Laird which has come on-board to support the event.
The full programme will be unveiled in the forthcoming months.
Liverpool’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Ann O’Byrne, said: “Hosting Armed Forces Day is a huge coup for Liverpool and despite still being 100 days away, an incredible amount of work has already been undertaken behind the scenes to make sure this city does the forces community proud.
“On the 24 June, Liverpool will become the focal point for the UK as together we acknowledge the hard work and dedication of men and women in the services.
“It’s important to mark the 100-day milestone and I look forward to the countdown to June, when Liverpool will show once again just why it has an outstanding reputation for staging outdoor events.”
Commander Bernie Thompson, Chief of Staff at the Naval Regional Headquarters in Liverpool, who is in charge of co-ordinating the event on behalf of the military services said: “The Armed Forces have historic links with the city of Liverpool and it’s a great honour that the Royal Navy is the lead service for this year’s national event in this great maritime hub.
“This year’s Armed Forces Day National Event provides a great opportunity for us to engage with the public, who give us such tremendous support. Those currently serving in the Regular and Reserve Armed Forces, along with veterans and cadets, are eagerly looking forward to meeting the many thousands of people who be in Liverpool on the 24th of June to enjoy the spectacle that the city will be staging to mark Armed Forces Day on behalf of the Nation.”
Cammell Laird CEO John Syvret, CBE, said: “We are immensely proud of all our Armed Forces, and the special lionhearted men and women both past and present who have worked and continue to work so selflessly to defend our country and our way of life.
“I had no hesitation in taking on the lead sponsor role to support the holding of the 2017 National Armed Forces Day event here on Merseyside. And I am certain the communities of Merseyside and the country as a whole will turn out in their thousands to provide their support, and that our great city will provide a magnificent venue and spectacle for the nation.
“Cammell Laird has long established connections with our Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and we are very proud to have played our part in the defence of Britain. For almost two centuries we have built and repaired hundreds of ships which undertook prime roles in two world wars, and today we continue to play our part by supporting future naval capability.”
Liverpool was officially announced as the official host of national Armed Forces Day by the Ministry of Defence in July 2016 following a bidding process.
It will take place at the same time as the Mersey River Festival, and although both events will remain distinct, links will be made between the two so they complement each other. Many of Saturday’s activities will remain for Sunday 25 June.
For more information visit www.liverpoolarmedforcesday.co.uk or follow CultureLpool on Twitter or Culture Liverpool on Facebook.