Leeds reveals plans for stirring tribute to military heroes

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People in Leeds can salute the bravery of the country’s military heroes at a major event taking place next month.

Victoria Gardens on The Headrow is hosting the celebration of the part played in national life by service personnel on Armed Forces Day, which this year falls on Saturday, June 28.

The Leeds City Council-organised event will run from 11am to 4pm and will include a midday military parade together with music from Rothwell Temperance Band.

Another highlight will be a flyover from a historic Spitfire plane, scheduled to happen at 2.45pm.

Military hardware on display at the free Ministry of Defence-backed event will include a 24-tonne multiple launch rocket system.

Family-friendly activities will include a fun ‘boot camp’ and the chance to take on the challenge of scaling a climbing wall.

Coun Graham Hyde, chair of the council’s armed forces member champion group, said: “An amazing amount of hard work has gone into the organisation of this year’s Armed Forces Day.

“I would personally like to thank representatives of each service in the military, and a wide range of charities, groups and organisations, for all of their assistance and help.”

The packed programme for June 28 follows criticism of the council’s low-key role in last year’s Armed Forces Day celebrations.

Veterans condemned the local authority after it emerged that no official events would be held on the day itself.

The council pointed out that The Rifles Regiment would be on parade in the city only a week beforehand.

It also belatedly decided to hold a tea party-style event at Leeds Civic Hall on Armed Forces Day, which was dismissed as “a sop”.

One of the leading critics of the council was David Marshall, chairman of the Leeds branch of the Royal British Legion.

He has given his seal of approval to the plan for 2014, saying: “This promises to be a fantastic event and we hope a lot of people will attend and join in the celebrations on the day.”

Nostell Priory will stage part of this year’s Armed Forces Day celebrations in Wakefield.

An event is running at the visitor attraction from 10am to 4pm on Sunday, June 22, and will feature activities including a parachute display and an assault course.

Wakefield Council said the early date had been picked to avoid a clash with other events happening around the county on Armed Forces Day itself.

Armed Forces Day is held each year to encourage people across the UK to show their appreciation for the military.

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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