Armed Forces Day 2012
A fanfare of trumpets from the Band of The Parachute Regiment sounded as the Armed Forces Day flag was flown from Colchester Town Hall on 25th June, at the start of a week of countrywide events culminating in Armed Forces Day on 30th June.
Colchester Borough Council joined local authorities and community groups across the country flying the flag to show their support for our Servicemen and women, and for the wider Armed Forces community of families, veterans and cadets.
Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Christopher Arnold said: “Armed Forces Day is a national event to show support for the military community, which is something that Colchester has long done. This is our opportunity to acknowledge the central part that 16 Air Assault Brigade plays in Colchester, and also what the Royal Navy, Army and RAF does for the nation.”
Col Newman MBE, CO Colchester Garrison, said: “Colchester embodies the spirit of Armed Forces Day, with no town across the country providing better support to the troops based within it. That support has sustained 16 Bde through a high tempo of operations in recent years and is something that we are constantly humbled by.”
Another event taking place that week was Uniform to Work Day on 27th June, when across the country thousands of Reservists – from gardeners to bankers – hung up their usual work clothes and proudly donned their service uniforms to show that the Armed Forces are made up of people from all sections of the community. It is a simple way of demonstrating the huge contribution that ordinary citizens can make to the Armed Forces.
Dock workers L/Cpls Andy Bicker and Matt Connolly and L/Bom Mark Versey all took part but also brought an Apache attack helicopter with them as they wore their uniform to their day jobs at the Port of Felixstowe.
L/Cpl Connolly, 47, serves with Bury St Edmunds-based 6 Regt AAC(V). To demonstrate to port staff his role in the TA as helicopter ground crew, an Apache flew in, and soldiers set up a Forward Arming and Refuelling Point (FARP). L/Cpl Connolly served in the Army for 15 years and now works as a terminal clerical operator, processing the paperwork of the 2.5 million containers that arrive at Felixstowe every year. He said: “I was an infantry soldier and after a few years out of the Army I was missing the camaraderie, so I joined the TA in 2008. Joining an AAC unit was a fresh challenge. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, working on the Apache, and it was great to test myself against the young guys in the regulars and show that I can still do it.”
L/Cpl Bicker,42, works as a quayside supervisor and is a driver with 202 (Ipswich) Transport Squadron, 158 (Royal Anglian) Transport Regt RLC(V), having joined the TA in 2009. L/Bom Versey, 39, joined the TA in 2001 after a ten year career in the Royal Artillery, and has subsequently deployed to Iraq. “I wanted to continue my service and find that, in my job as a quayside supervisor, military experience has really helped to develop my problem solving, team work and self-confidence.”
Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs for the Port of Felixstowe, said: “We are keen to promote the benefits of employing reservists and to encourage people to become reservists. We have about 19 TA soldiers employed at the port, as well as a significant number of ex-military personnel. We find that people, such as TA soldiers, who have a more rounded experience outside the port bring skills from elsewhere to their work here, which we all benefit from.”