Armed Forces Day on July 1 2011
Armed Forces Day on July 1 2011

Ten years ago a Hastings park hosted a spectator Forces Day event

Thousands of people turned out to pay their respects to the town’s servicemen, women and veterans as part of Armed Forces Day on July 1 2011.

By Colin Jenner
Friday, 2nd July 2021, 9:42 am

Organisers of the annual event estimate more than 4,500 people visited Alexandra Park on Sunday, with 40 stalls and a host of displays keeping them entertained throughout the day.

And it was not only a bumper turn-out from the public, with the numbers of people taking part in the parade also up on last year. In fact, so many veterans, cadets and regimental representatives signed up to take part that stewards had to increase the length of the arena by 50 foot overnight to fit them all in.

Richard Vallery-Peters, spokesman for the Hastings and St Leonards Veterans Association which runs the event, said it had been the best ever.

Speaking to the Observer the following day, he said: “I know it means a lot to the veterans to know their service is recognised and see the town turn out in the way it did.

“And of course, it is good for the families of current servicemen and women to know the town appreciates what they are doing.”

As well as the parade and a memorial service, led by the association’s chaplain Rev Robert Featherstone, there was also a field gun carrying competition, in the same vein as the old Royal Tournament contests.

Elsewhere, a tug-of-war between the Royal Artillery and the Medical Corp took an unexpected turn with the best-of-three score tied 1v1. Peter White, who formed the local veterans association and very nearly missed the occasion due to a spell in respite care, saw the teams fighting it out and weighed in on the side of the Royal Artillery - by hitching the rope to the back of his mobility scooter and helping to pull.

The veterans association had recently unveiled the Duchess of Cornwall as its new patron.

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