Support for the troops as Armed Forces Week kicks off

RESPECT Air Force cadet Iesha Cripps, from Havant 2327 Squadron, raises the armed forces day flag at Havant Council Offices. Picture: Allan Hutchings (131766-510)
RESPECT Air Force cadet Iesha Cripps, from Havant 2327 Squadron, raises the armed forces day flag at Havant Council Offices. Picture: Allan Hutchings (131766-510)
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YOUNG Iesha Cripps was a picture of pride as she raised a flag to mark the start of Armed Forces Week.

The 15-year-old air force cadet was chosen by the Mayor of Havant, Paul Buckley, to raise the flag at the Public Service Plaza.

The flag will fly throughout the week as events take place across the Portsmouth area ahead of Armed Forces Day celebrations on Saturday.

Iesha, from Waterlooville, said: ‘I was quite nervous but excited to do it. It’s nice to be asked to do something.

‘This is just respect. My grandad was in the navy and I do this out of respect for him.’

Her grandfather, Brian Willis, 67, who was in the Royal Navy for 32 years, watched the occasion.

He said: ‘I am very proud. The more she does, the better I feel about it. It’s great to see everybody here today.’

The service was led by Father Mike Sheffield, the Mayor’s chaplain, who paid tribute to the sacrifice made by all the armed forces.

Mayor Paul Buckley, a former Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy, said: ‘We are all, I am sure, very proud of our armed forces and all the men and women, past and present, who serve their country with pride, honour and distinction.

‘As an ex-serviceman I am delighted we have this opportunity to show our appreciation, support and respect for all that they do.’

Following a two-minute silence, crowds sang the National Anthem.

Attending the event were the Mayor’s three chosen cadets this year – Antony Deakin, 16, from the air force cadets, Bradley Bews, 16, from the marine cadets, and Oliver Drain, 17, from the army cadets.

Meanwhile, in Petersfield the Armed Forces Flag was raised at Penns Place by the chairman of East Hampshire District Council, Chris Graham.

There were also events in Gosport and Fareham.

On Thursday Portsmouth will see a parade and ceremony in Guildhall Square at 10.20am.

There will be a presentation to Arctic Convoy veterans of their Arctic Star medals.

The Royal Navy and Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard will open HMS Defender and HMS Westminster to visitors at the weekend from 10am until 4pm.

And the navy will host firefighting demonstrations on both days from 10.30am.

On Saturday at 6pm, there will be a service in Horndean Village Square.