Royal Air Force Air Cadets from Nuneaton took part in a parade in Warwick which marked the signing of the Armed Forces Community Covenant by Warwickshire County Council and various other partners in a move to help serving and former armed services personnel and their families in civilian life.
The Armed Forces Community Covenant was signed in Warwick on Armed Forces Day Saturday 30 June, by representatives of the various agencies who are committed to helping present and former armed services personnel.
The parade led by the Band of 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron and standards from the British Legion, the National Standard of SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) and the cadet forces including Air Cadet standards from 121 (Nuneaton), 496 (Balsall Common) and 2028 (Southam) Squadrons marched through the streets of the historic county town of Warwick to mark the start of what was to be an historically significant event for the local Armed Forces Community.
The people of Warwick lined the streets to see the colourful parade and demonstrated their support for their Armed Forces Community as they applauded each marching contingent of veterans, Sea Cadets, Army Cadets and the Air Cadets.
Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of the County of Warwickshire Martin Dunne and other leading representatives of the armed forces including Squadron Leader Coats, took the salute at the Warwick War Memorial as the parade made its way to the Old Shire Hall in Northgate Street for the formal signing of the Armed Forces Community Covenant.
As they entered the Old Shire Hall at the start of the formal proceedings a lone piper led the Lord Lieutenant and other civic dignitaries through a guard of honour of Cadets and Standards from all three services.
The Armed Forces Community Covenant was signed by representatives of Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, the District and Borough Councils of Warwickshire, representatives from the charitable and voluntary sectors the Ministry of Defence, Police, Probation and Prison Service, local Primary Care Trusts, Universities and Colleges etc.
Cllr Alan Farnell, leader of Warwickshire County Council, said, “All of us in the UK owe a great debt to our armed forces personnel, past and present. By agreeing to this Covenant and in agreeing to working with partners, the County Council is demonstrating a real commitment to improving the lives of armed forces personnel”.
Brigadier Mark Banham MBE, Commander of 143 (West Midlands Brigade), said, “This is a formal recognition of the close relationship that exists between the county of Warwickshire and the military community that lives within it. We welcome the covenant and will work to facilitate the partnership and thereby seek to reduce some of the disadvantages that can be experienced by service personnel and their families because of the demands of service life.”
Last year, the Secretary of State for Defence issued the Armed Forces Covenant, an expression of the country’s moral obligation to armed forces personnel, past and present, and their families.
The Ministry of Defence proposed that local authorities enter into an Armed Forces Community Covenant, a voluntary statement of support between the civilian community and the local armed forces community which complements the government scheme. In Warwickshire, this will help former service personnel to access services such as housing, social care, health care and education for themselves and their families.
The Warwickshire County Council will also work with other groups in the area, including the Warwickshire Veterans Partnership. Administered by Mr Len Hardy, (who also acts as Civilian Committee chairman for 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron) this comprises a range of local public bodies, charities and individuals who represent service personnel.
As well as the Veterans Partnership, the Council will work with other bodies such as the District and Borough councils, Coventry City Council, Solihull Borough Council, veterans’ associations, local health authorities, the education sector and the private sector through the Local Enterprise Partnership.
After the event Flight Lieutenant Paul Hincks RAF VR(T) who commanded the Warwick parade said, “So many people put a tremendous amount of effort into making today such a wonderful success, everything just fell into place, thanks to all the planning that went on beforehand. Someone even managed to come up this some good weather and as planned the parade marched off on the first chime of the St Mary Church clock at 11:00hrs”
He added, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took part in the parade, the Nuneaton Squadron Band did us proud, and the Standard Bearers, Veterans, Cadet Forces and all those who worked so hard behind the scenes to make it all happen, all things said, the parade was a fitting demonstration of our commitment towards the start of the Armed Forces Community Covenant in Warwickshire”.