SWT is commemorating Armed Forces Day on Saturday 27 June in a socially distanced format. The Council traditionally holds flag raising ceremonies to show its support for the Armed Forces community from currently serving troops to service families, veterans and cadets.
However, in light of the current guidance around Coronavirus and social distancing it will be taking a slightly different approach to mark the annual event in 2020. The Armed Forces Day flags will still be flown at both the Taunton and Williton offices from Monday 22 June but SWT will not be hosting flag raising ceremonies.
Instead, the Council is producing a series of short videos to be shared on its social media feeds in the lead up to and on Armed Forces Day. It has asked everyone who would usually have taken part in the ceremonies to record a short video clip of the words they would have shared if they were gathered together on the day.
The footage will be used to create a series of videos which will be posted online along with photos of individuals saluting in support of the national #saluteourforces campaign.
The Chair of SWT, Cllr Hazel Prior-Sankey, has told Tone News:
The respect and appreciation shown by the local community goes a long way to sustaining the morale of the Armed Forces “family”, particularly 40 Commando Royal Marines and The Rifles who have a long association with Somerset West and Taunton.
Obviously we are having to do things very differently this year, as has been the case with so many events and occasions. We have all been amazed by the kindness and generosity of people throughout Somerset West and Taunton during this unprecedented time and hope that people would still like to be involved with our commemorations and send the message that we are thinking of our Armed Forces community at this time.
More information on the #saluteourforces campaign can be found on the Armed Forces Day website.
Flag raising to show Somerset’s support for the Armed Forces
The flag to honour the Armed Forces in Somerset is being raised on Monday 22 June by Somerset County Council Chair Councillor Nigel Taylor outside County Hall in Taunton.
He will be joined – with social distancing observed – by Council Leader David Fothergill, Councillor Rod Williams, who chairs the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant Partnership and Council Chief Executive Pat Flaherty.
Armed Forces Day will be marked on Saturday 27 June and although people may not be able to come together physically to mark it this year, there are many ways that supporters can join in and celebrate at home.
Somerset has a long history of Armed Forces based in the county including the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton and 40 Commando Royal Marines, based at Norton Manor Camp, near Taunton.
This year marks a poignant anniversary for 40 Commando as it is 10 years since the unit lost 14 men in just 85 days of conflict in Afghanistan. Memorial services have been held at Norton Manor Camp to mark the occasion.
The County Council leads the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant Partnership which brings together charities, local authorities, other public sector organisations, businesses, communities, individuals and the military in a pledge of support between local residents and the Armed Forces community in Somerset.
There’s more information here: https://www.somerset.gov.uk/libraries-leisure-and-communities/somerset-armed-forces-covenant-partnership/
Armed Forces Day has compiled ideas on how people can celebrate virtually this year – details can be found here: https://www.armedforcesday.org.uk/about/