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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Workington pays tribute to its armed forces

Soldiers past and present said they were overwhelmed by the support shown to them by people at Workington’s annual Armed Forces Day parade.

Corporal Ross Murphy, 24, of Senhouse Street, Workington, who has served with The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment for eight years, took part in Saturday’s parade to the cheers and applause of onlookers.

He said: “Compared to some of the national events it is amazing what a small community with local people turning out can do.

“It’s great that people recognise there are still men and women out there fighting for our country, even while we’re here now celebrating them. The camaraderie is brilliant.”

Kingsman Daniel Vazquez, 21, also of the regiment, was taking part in the parade for the third time.

Daniel, of Northside, Workington, said: “I love doing it, and there were a lot of people out supporting us this year.

“I enjoy telling people what we do and showing them we’re happy to come out in uniform.”

Now in its fifth year, the annual parade is organised by the Royal British Legion.

Hundreds of people attended to show their support.

It began on Pow Street, led by the North Tyneside Pipe Band and serving military personnel.

The parade then moved down Finkle Street and into Vulcan’s Lane.

It stopped at Vulcan Park for a service led by Canon Brian Rowe, of St Michael’s Church, to honour current and past members of the armed forces. The service included several prayers and a performance of the national anthem, backed by Cleator Moor Brass Band.

The parade then marched down Oxford Street to the Royal British Legion Club on St John’s Court for an afternoon of festivities.

Displays from the pipe band and a performance from the D-Day Darlings rounded off the tribute.

Workington’s Joe Smith, 77, a former Guardsman with the Scots Guards, said: “The service in the park was special, remembering old friends. This was the best it’s been I think.”

Bill Pearson, 88, of Workington, who served as a private with the Royal Engineers in Belgium and the Netherlands in 1944, said: “It’s great to come out and support the forces and be thankful.

“Swapping stories with the younger generation in the forces has been fantastic.”

Paul Gaitskell, 36, of Distington, a former Royal Engineer, said: “I’m a veteran of Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland and I’m here to support the Royal Engineers Association and the Royal British Legion.

“If it wasn’t for the people behind today things like this wouldn’t happen in the town.”

David Weston, 35, of Workington, watched the service with his daughter Ava-Paige, three. He said: “It’s nice to bring my little girl to something good like this for the community.”

Sharon Stone, of Great Clifton, whose daughter Charlotte serves with the Royal Logistic Corps, said: “I think it’s great to support them. It’s not too much to ask at all for people to line the streets.”

The event raises money towards the legion and its Poppy Appeal. It also raises awareness of the organisation’s welfare work with former and current members and their families.

Pat Nelson, one of the event’s organisers, said: “It is wonderful to see so many here. So many people want to get involved. It keeps getting bigger and better.”

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