Thursday, June 23, 2011

Armed Forces Day

Celebrations for Armed Forces week took place mainly today in Stockton.  Inevitably they were lower key than last year when we had soldiers exercising the Freedom of the Borough granted to them earlier in the year.  There was a huge turnout and a wonderful feeling of support in the town centre for that.  This year there were some display stands in Stockton centre but no ceremonial to watch.  The weather wasn't kind either - wet in the morning and threatening in the afternoon - so not many people made the effort to turn out.
There was a tea dance in the United Reform church hall but to be honest, if a number of residential homes hadn't taken residents to it there would only have been a dozen people there.  I don't know if that was a sign of low key publicity or lack of interest in ballroom dancing or some other reason.  I do know that the people I spoke to were disappointed.
Perhaps we need to take the risk in the borough of having our celebrations on a Saturday, working out how to do it without causing a problem to Stockton market.  Should we be radical and have it in Billingham or Thornaby?  Both have pedestrianised areas in the town centre and a leisure centre with a hall that could be used for dancing - or is that too radical?  By having it there might we get parades of cadets?  Or even the local TA?  Who knows, but I feel we've got to try something or it becomes such a low key event that it's not a decent recognition of our armed forces and the effort they put in on our behalf around the world.

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