North Kesteven ‘salutes our Armed Forces’

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Armed Forces Day flag-raising ceremony outside St Deny's Church, Sleaford
Armed Forces Day flag-raising ceremony outside St Deny's Church, Sleaford

Almost 380 years of combined service in the Armed Forces has been honoured through the presentation of Veteran’s Badges, in a continuation of a long-held custom by the Council.

The 19 veterans of the British Armed Forces present at a celebratory lunch for Armed Forces Day had put in a collective 260 years of service between them, with individual contributions of between two and 40 years. Additionally, Veteran’s Badges have been sent to a further nine veterans who were unable to attend. Their collective service represents a further 119 years of contributions.

Between them, the 28 veterans celebrated this year have seen service across the Forces’ headquarters, on operational frontlines and in myriad countries around the world; engaged across the British Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Merchant Navy and their specialist sections, in theatres of war, in peace-keeping, community resilience, civil contingencies, and countless other duties.

The badge presentations followed the formal raising of the Armed Forces Day flag in the presence of serving personnel, forces families, service, veteran and civic representatives plus school children and the wider community gathered at Sleaford Market Place.

The purpose of Armed Forces Day and a programme of wider activity is for the community to show its support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community, whether serving personnel, their families, veterans or recruits and to celebrate and champion the role they play in strengthening and contributing to wider community life. North Kesteven’s theme for 2024 was to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day in the presence of D-Day veteran Les Budding who complimented the Council for all it does.

“It’s clear to me that North Kesteven is a caring council that always looks after its veterans and forces community. It’s a wonderful event and especially nice to see the youngsters get involved in it, putting their hearts and souls into it and I hope that continues.

“These are the generations who have come after those of us who went to war and we hope they remember what has taken place in the past. I hope that people living today learn that war does no one any good and continue to show their support for everyone who now-a-days choses to serve and works for peace and for their communities.’

North Kesteven has the county’s second highest proportion of veterans and people associated with the Armed Forces living locally, which at 10.2% means that around 11,000 of the District’s population have served

Commandant of RAF College Cranwell, Group Captain Tina Jessup, said that His Majesty’s Armed Forces were currently on operations in 30 countries, supporting overseas territories, working alongside NATO colleague and co-ordinating rescue evacuations. “Importantly”, she said, “we could not do this without the support from family, friends and the very community that we all live in.

“We have a huge presence in the District of North Kesteven, both today and historically, so I say a huge thank you to each and every one of you for your continued dedication and support to His Majesty’s Armed Forces.”

Wing Commander Howard Leader, a Volunteer Reserve with the Royal Auxiliary Air Force’s specialist media unit compered and championed the lunch. He said it was ‘unusual, if not unique’, for a local authority to celebrate the role veterans play in community life in this way. “These badges mark out our veterans as very special people and I say to everyone who sees anyone wearing one to stop and talk, to ask them about the things they have done and I can guarantee some very interesting and inspiring stories.”

From 56 entries, the overall winner of the schools’ poster design competition was Jessica W, a Year 9 student from Kesteven & Sleaford Girls High School whose stylish representation of the D-Day anniversary and the unique dynamic of the international land, air and sea assault was acknowledged and appreciated for its impact.

Also contributing to the celebration was a choir from Winchelsea Primary School, the 1940s singer Jayne Darling, and the generous donation of hundreds of handmade poppies repurposed from the Heckington 100 project and crafted by NKDC colleagues.

Veteran’s Badges are now given to all personnel as they end their service, but North Kesteven District Council is keen to ensure all NK-resident veterans who are eligible for one – covering any period of service of one day or more in the Army, Navy, RAF or Merchant Navy, as a reservist, full-timer or through National Service – should receive one. To enquire about applying for a badge to be presented next year, email armedforces@n-kesteven.gov.uk  

Including this years presentations, the Council has handed out almost 450 badges over the past 16 years, believing that it is an important recognition of the contributions made by veterans and serving personnel to the vibrancy and vitality of North Kesteven as a District of Flourishing Communities.

Image Gallery | Armed Forces Day gallery

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