People up and down the country have been celebrating the men and women of the Armed Forces, past and present, for Armed Forces Day.
Marking its 7th year, events have ranged from large scale parades to simple community events, but the main focus of attention was at the National Event in Guildford, attended by His Royal Highness The Duke of York.
The Prime Minister David Cameron was also at the celebrations in Guildford.
“Today, we celebrate our brave servicemen and women who work so hard to keep our country safe. It’s only right that once they leave the Forces, we give them the support they need to find a job.
“We also have a responsibility to our reservists and the families of our military personnel for the sacrifices they make. So for the first time we will help them to find work too. And today we are also calling on the private sector to play its part – by signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant to help reservists and veterans into work.
“I want everyone to have the security of a job and the opportunity to get on in life – and we particularly owe support to our veterans, their partners, and reservists.”
Other guests included the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, the Worshipful Mayor of Guildford Nikki Nelson-Smith and Defence Ministers Penny Mordaunt and Julian Brazier.
Celebrations began with a service of celebration at Guildford Cathedral, at which the Defence Secretary gave a reading. A parade of more than 900 Service personnel, veterans and cadets then marched through the historic heart of Guildford, from the High Street to the outdoor events arena at Stoke Park.
The Duke of York took the salute on the parade route on behalf of The Queen and Royal Family, as the world famous Red Arrows roared over in tribute.
Afternoon celebration continued at Stoke Park with a variety of military displays including a Royal Air Force GR4 Tornado flypast. Visitors also enjoyed seeing displays from a Sea King search and rescue team, and flying overhead the Spitfire and Hurricane from the RAF Battle of Britain memorial Flight and the Swordfish biplane from the Royal Navy Historic Flight.
In addition, tens of thousands of people were treated to three parachute displays from the Royal Navy Raiders, the Army Red Devils and the RAF Falcons, as well as a demonstration from the Royal Signals White Helmet motorbike Display Team on the ground.
The Red Arrows took to the skies again as the military celebrations drew to a close, accompanied by a tri-Service group of military bands made up of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Portsmouth, the Band of the Grenadier Guards, and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.
Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach said:
“I’m delighted to see the people of Guildford leading today’s Armed Forces Day celebrations on behalf of the United Kingdom. Armed Forces Day is a chance for people to say thank you to the extraordinary men and women all over the world who dedicate their lives to protecting our safety and security.”
The Worshipful Mayor of Guildford Nikki Nelson-Smith added:
“What a truly spectacular way for Guildford to lead the celebrations for Armed Forces Day, and honour the commitment and dedication of Britain’s service men and women, past and present. I am proud that so many residents and visitors joined to give a heartfelt welcome to the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force, and show their appreciation and support for the regulars, reserves, veterans and cadets. It was fantastic to see the crowds with so many families enjoying the grand military parade in the High Street and stunning displays on show at Stoke Park. My sincere thanks go to all those involved in making this a day to remember.”
Alongside the celebrations in Guildford, more than 150 events were held in towns and cities across the UK.
Celebrities and members of the public showed their support on social media with the hashtag #SaluteOurForces. Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker, Sir Derek Jacobi, Lorraine Kelly, Strictly star Christopher Biggins and Emmerdale’s Isabel Hodgkins were among many to send messages of support by recording a video or posing for a photo of them saluting.
British businesses have showed their support too, with the Royal Mail postmarking Saturday’s mail with “Armed Forces Day 27 June 2015” and BT Tower illuminating the London skyline with the messages “Show Your Support; Armed Forces Day 2015” and “#SaluteOurForces”.