Published: Thursday, 25th June 2020

Medway will show its ongoing support for our armed forces this week, ahead of Armed Forces Day on Saturday, 27 June.

Medway Council will celebrate Armed Forces Day virtually this year as unfortunately the annual celebration at the Great Lines Heritage Park in Gillingham was cancelled, in line with government advice, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Proud of its rich military heritage and historic connections with our armed forces, Medway Council is still celebrating this important day this year, but in a different way. Council Leader, Cllr Alan Jarrett has come together with the new Lord Lieutenant of Kent, The Lady Colgrain to record a video message of thanks to our armed forces which also includes messages from the Commanding Officer of HMS Medway, Lt Cdr Jim Blythe, and Lt Col Mark Stephenson Commanding Officer of 1 RSME Regiment, based in Brompton Barracks. The video also features footage from last year’s Armed Forces Day and HMS Medway’s recent visit and will be posted on social media ahead of Armed Forces Day on Saturday, 27 June.

Armed Forces Day flags will be raised at different locations across Medway including at Gun Wharf, Chatham Fire Station, the Historic Dockyard, Brompton Barracks and at Fort Amherst in recognition of their hard work, dedication and efforts to keep us safe.

Residents are encouraged to join in and show their support by sending video messages or sharing their photos of the military in Medway on social media, tagging Medway Council’s Enjoy Medway accounts and using the hashtags #SaluteOurForces and #ArmedForcesDay as part of a virtual salute.

We are proud of Medway's rich military history

Cllr Howard Doe, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services and Armed Forces Champion, said: “We are very proud of Medway’s rich military history and we are committed to continuing to support Medway’s armed forces community. We will continue to work closely with local military units to raise awareness of the challenges faced by the armed forces. I am pleased that we will be celebrating Armed Forces Day virtually this year and I would encourage residents to show their support by taking part in the virtual salute. We hope to be able to celebrate together again at the Great Lines in 2021.”

Medway Council has signed the Armed Forces Covenant which focuses on ensuring services are provided to members of the armed forces community, from education and family well-being to advice on starting a new career. In 2018 the council was presented the silver award from the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme for its continued efforts to help those from a military background secure employment and provide support to them throughout their employment.

The Armed Forces Covenant ensures that services, such as education and career support, are provided to members of the armed forces community.

Our armed forces have a special place in our community

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “Our armed forces have a special place in our community. Medway has provided a home for Britain’s armed forces for hundreds of years. The Royal Engineers in Brompton have made a rich contribution to life in Medway and even now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it is our Royal Engineers who have designed and created the NHS Mobile Testing Units. As always our Sappers are leading the way. Medway also has a proud relationship with the Royal Navy which is maintained with the Royal Naval Reservists in Rochester and with our namesake ship, HMS Medway. To all members of our armed forces, wherever they might be, and whatever tribulations they may face, Medway sends you all our heartiest best wishes and promises a warm welcome when you next visit us.”

Hugely grateful for your support

In the video, Lt Col Mark Stephenson Commanding Officer of 1 RSME Regiment, based in Brompton Barracks, said: “I would like to offer my sincere gratitude from the military community based here in Brompton for the support we get year round from the community in Medway, especially on Armed Forces Day. The whole military family, be that regular, reserve, the service families themselves, the cadets and the veterans are hugely grateful for everything you do to support us in our day-to-day business and our lives, and especially during this challenging period under coronavirus and lockdown.”

HMS Medway has strong links with the Medway community

In the video, which will be posted on social media, Commanding Officer of HMS Medway, Lt Cdr Jim Blythe, speaking on station from the Caribbean where HMS Medway is doing vital work to provide support during hurricane season, gives his warm wishes to Medway residents and recognises the hard work of key workers across Medway including staff at Medway Maritime Hospital and the emergency services.

Lt Cdr Blythe said: “Even though we are thousands of miles away you can be assured of how important I place the strong links your ship has with the Medway community. Many of my ship’s company remember, very fondly, their time in Chatham last year and the very warm welcome we received as part of our commissioning. It is testament to our strong links that are and will continue to provide that link between you. I will always strive to keep you up to date with our vital work. Armed Forces Day is a chance to show your support for all members of the armed forces but also to recognise our service families. As a deployed ship I absolutely recognise the pressure on families displaced from their loved ones and really do understand the self sacrifice families go through to support us. Thank you. I also want to recognise our veterans without their service and sacrifice we would not be able to enjoy a lot of the freedoms that we enjoy today. I wish you all a very happy Armed Forces Day and welcome our new Lord Lieutenant of Kent, The Lady Colgrain.”

He added: “I want you all to know that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it you are always in our thoughts and our shared motto could not be more apt, forward together.”

We all owe the armed forces a huge debt of gratitude 

Lord Lieutenant of Kent The Lady Colgrain, The Queen's official representative in the county, said: "Now more than ever, we need to show our united support for our incredible Armed Forces and the wonderful work they do to protect us. We think especially of their heroic efforts during the pandemic.

"Covid-19 has brought grief, sadness and hardship to many. But it has also brought people together, with heart-warming stories of volunteers, neighbours and friends giving a helping hand. We applaud all the heroes who have done such amazing things in Medway during the crisis, not least of course our Armed Forces. We salute their valued contribution on Armed Forces Day and every day. We all owe them a huge debt of gratitude."

To join in the celebrations watch the video, and show your support, follow Enjoy Medway on Twitter and Facebook and tag the accounts in your messages and photos using the hashtags #SaluteOurForces and #ArmedForcesDay as part of a virtual salute.

Armed Forces Day: virtual celebration

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