Armed Forces Day

Today marks Armed Forces Day, following a week of events giving our thanks to the service personnel up and down the UK and further even afield who are serving their country, alongside their families who support them in doing so.

From safety and security, to peacekeeping and humanitarian aid, the British Armed Forces are the most effective in the world.

Our Armed Forces are built on an unparalleled culture and ethos, one I’ve been fortunate enough to see first-hand over the last year.

As a member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many of our armed forces personnel in a range of roles over the last year.

From visits to training at Catterick, the infantry Battle School in Brecon, and the Army Foundation College amongst others, I’ve been fortunate to see the hard-work that goes on behind the scenes to make our Army battle-ready.

And more recently, too, I’ve seen the impact of the army on our community.

Two weeks ago, I attended the unveiling of a memorial bench in Cudworth.

It marked the loss of those brave local men who answered the call and enthusiastically signed up to defend their country in the Great War.

They joined up in droves, but alongside their friends and family the Barnsley Pals witnessed indescribable devastation as they were killed in their hundreds at The Somme.

Whilst those experiences have slipped slowly out of living memory, armed forces personnel both serving and long retired came together around that bench in Cudworth to commemorate the losses of the past it resides there to remember.

This week I attended the ceremonial flag raising in Barnsley town centre to mark the start of this important Armed Forces Week.

In doing so, I repeated our commitment to service personnel currently operating within our forces in doing everything we can to support them as they serve.

This means ensuring prompt physical and mental health support for those who need it, improving the living standards in areas like accommodation and housing that serving personnel deserve, and a greater consistency in implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant.

And aside from those personnel currently serving, I was fortunate enough to visit Sandhurst last week and meet the army’s leaders of the future.

Amongst them was Worsbrough’s Ryan Francis, a young man who does his community proud.

He and others like him are learning about that ethos and culture now and will be its custodians for the next generation.

And it is for all of these people; those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice, those who do serve and to whom we owe so much, and those learning to serve who will maintain the high standards of the British forces for years to come, that we mark Armed Forces Day.

So to them I take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’, and reiterate the promise support them in their role for which this country owes them such a substantial debt of gratitude.