The show of support in Grangemouth during this year’s Armed Forces Day parade left no doubt how highly the town regards its veterans.
And, while it took place afterwards away from the crowds, in the town’s British Legion branch, the official signing of a special covenant is further proof of the commitment local organisations have to helping the servicemen and women who give so much, even their very lives, to fight our battles and protect our country.
By all reports this year’s Armed Forces Day parade, which took place last Saturday, was the best attended by far and included representatives of the Royal British Legion motorcycle riders, veterans and – perhaps most importantly –a large number of young people in the form of the area’s Army, Sea and Air cadets. Grahamston FC boys club, which is sponsored by Grangemouth British Legion, were also there.
The local British Legion is always looking to bring the younger generation into the organisation and goes to great lengths to remind people most of the veterans who need help and support these days are young men and women who have fought in relatively recent conflicts like Afghanistan.
Jan Harvey, vice president of Royal British Legion Scotland and former chairman of Grangemouth British Legion, was one of those taking part in last weekend’s parade, enjoying the spectacle of military vehicles, both operational and vintage, on display from the Scottish Transport Regiment.
Jan said: “It used to be known as Veterans’ Day and most people around the country hold it in June, but we choose August to allow more people to take part in our event. It’s not like Remembrance Day, which is a time for sombre reflection.
“Armed Forces Day is more of a celebration – a chance for people to show their support and thanks to service personnel past and present. The parade also raises public awareness of the contribution of those currently serving their country or those who have served.”
People from all over the country came along to Grangemouth last Saturday, some from as far away as Campbeltown and Helensburgh, to take part in the parade, a visible sign of their support for the veterans.
The day also saw Falkirk Provost Pat Reid handing over the proceeds raised at last year’s Festival of Remembrance to service charities.
Recipients were Erskine Hospital, Combat Stress, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) and limbless veterans charity BLESMA.
The Provost said: “All right thinking people in our country would love to see an end to war and strife. However, there are issues over which the country has no control and which require the nation to be ready to defend itself against threats to our freedoms and way of life.
“Our armed forces commit themselves to this duty and many pay a heavy price physically and mentally, including the ultimate sacrifice.
“Events like Armed Forces Day are there to remind us of this and to allow us to pay tribute to the men and women dedicated to serving the nation.”
Provost Reid was also on hand when the event came to an end to add his signature to the Armed Forces Community Covenant, which, along with the monetary donation to the charities, is a means to provide long-term practical assistance to forces personnel.
Earlier this year Falkirk Council gave £25,000 to the Citizens Advice Bureaux to establish an Armed Services Advice Project in the area and presented Veterans Scotland with £30,000 to help implement the Covenant.
Signed by the Provost, along with Mrs Harvey and John Gibson of Grangemouth RBL and representatives from the NHS, Central Scotland Police, CAB and a wide variety of other local organisations, the covenant seeks to take the pride and gratitude shown to veterans at last weekend’s parade and carry that on throughout the entire year.
Provost Reid said: “The Community Covenant is a contract between the community and the men and women of the armed forces, both serving and veteran, which will serve as a constant reminder of our obligation to service personnel and veterans for their unselfish duty.”