24 June 2019

Southend is set to salute its armed services personnel past, present and future with music, commemoration and family fun as part of national Armed Forces Day.

Active service men and women, veterans and civilians are all invited to pay their respects to the service community as part of a week of activity commencing on Sunday 23 June and culminating in Armed Forces Day itself on Saturday 29 June.

The Southend events - which are being organised by Southend Community Events, commissioned on behalf of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and supported by armed forces charity SSAFA - are expected to be bigger and better than ever due to it being the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings in Normandy.

The public is invited to gather at 10.15am on 29 June at Victoria Circus on the High Street. From 10.30am, our armed forces personnel, present and future will parade from the railway bridge on the High Street to Victoria Circus, led by The Worshipful The Mayor of Southend. From 10.45am The Rev Frank Smith will conduct a public service. There will be “The Last Post”, gun fire, two minutes’ silence, a poppy drop and a Reveille at 11am. The service is due to conclude at 11.45am.

From midday, local bands will perform on a specially erected stage at Victoria Circus until 5pm. There will also be military equipment displays, service charity stalls, a funfair (outside the Forum) and military vehicles on display, plus other concessions located along the High Street.

The Worshipful The Mayor of Southend, Cllr John Lamb, said: “Armed Forces Day is a chance to show your support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community: from currently serving troops to Service families, veterans and cadets.

“Southend has a long and proud military history, with Shoebury Garrison playing an important role in both world wars and fishing boats from Leigh aiding the Dunkirk rescue effort.

“This year will be extra special as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, evidence of which can still be seen in the form of the Mulberry Harbour – part of the mobile harbour destined for Normandy – which grounded on the estuary.

“Still to this day, we have an active service community as well as cadet forces reservists and this is an opportunity to pay them all our respects.

“I am very proud to be able to be involved in this very special and important event and urge everyone in the town to get behind it.”

A week of celebration and commemoration

In addition to the official Armed Forces Day activity, special events will take place in and around the town. The week will commence with a “Best of British” concert from 3pm until 5pm, at King Edward Grammar School organised by SSAFA Southend, with money raised on the night going to veterans local to Southend.

At 10am on 24 June, Deputy Mayor Cllr Mark Flewitt, will raise the Armed Forces Flag at the Civic Centre – an event to which everyone is invited to attend. Later that day, veterans will enjoy an afternoon tea at St Mark’s church along with a special art exhibition by cadet forces.

Those wishing to learn more about our local service community are invited to attend an open day at the local branch of the armed forces charity, SSAFA, at the Royal British Legion (RBL) club in Westcliff on 27 June.

On Friday 28 June, there will be a Royal British Legion Disco at the RBL in Westcliff-on-Sea.

To book a place at the Best of British Concert, please call 07730 679 170. Tickets are priced at £10 with proceeds going to local veterans.