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Veterans honoured at moving Armed Forces Day service

Ex-servicemen and women from across Fenland were honoured when a special service in recognition of national Armed Forces Day was held in Whittlesey.

Veterans Day 1

The High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, Dr Andrew Harter CBE, presented HM Armed Forces Veterans Badges to more than 30 military personnel when Fenland District Council held a Veterans Day Commemoration Service on Friday, June 29.

More than 100 people gathered at Whittlesey's St Mary's Church for the moving celebration, which paid tribute to Britain's armed forces and their families and recognised the enormous contributions and sacrifices that have been made, past and present.

Conducted by Reverend Nigel Whitehouse, the service saw almost every branch of the wider forces family represented. There were veterans of the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force, as well as Submariners, Marines and Special Forces. There were regulars, territorial, reservists, auxiliaries and Merchant Navy.

A parade of standards by local Armed Forces Associations began and ended the service, and hymns included 'Eternal Father, Strong to Save', 'All My Hope on God Is Founded', 'Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven' and 'I Vow to Thee, My Country'.

Speaking during the service, Dr Harter said it was a "huge honour and privilege" to present HM Veterans Badges during a year of significant anniversaries - the 100th anniversary of the end of First World War; the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, and the 75th anniversary of operation Chastise, more famously known as the Dambusters raid.

He also remembered his own family's connections to the armed forces, including his father, who was barely 18 when he saw active service at the end of the Second World War, and his grandfather, who fought in the battles at Ypres and the Somme and lived well into his 90s, despite lungs damaged from mustard gas and shrapnel that could not be removed.

He said: "Today, I remember their stories and testimony with great pride, and I am filled with a spirit of profound thankfulness as I now have the very greatest pleasure in presenting these Veterans Badges."

Distinguished guests at the service included Deputy Lieutenant Colonel Horrell, Lily Bacon, Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Wing Commander Will Blencowe, from RAF Wyton, Colonel Mark Knight MBE, Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council Mandy Smith, and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Ray Bisby. The Mayors of Whittlesey and Wisbech also attended along with local councillors, as well as Fenland District Council leader, Cllr Chris Seaton, and Chief Executive Paul Medd.

Giving an address at the service, Chairman of Fenland District Council, Cllr Mrs Kay Mayor, said: "We are proud to be able to honour our veterans at this service, with 31 being presented with their Veterans Badges here today. A further 11 who were unable to attend have been sent their badges together with a letter of thanks. On behalf of us all, I thank you for your service to Crown and country."

The service also included a lament played by piper Jim Carnichan, and music from organists Paul Turner and James Trundell.

Afterwards, light refreshments were served at Childers Sports and Social Club.

Article added: July 3, 2018