We have a great naval heritage... I can’t think of a better place for it

The crew of HMS Ark Royal march through Portsmouth last year

The crew of HMS Ark Royal march through Portsmouth last year

Some of the 14 P2000 naval ships and three coastal forces heritage trust vessels that took part in exercises in the Solent this week

Armada takes to the sea

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PORTSMOUTH has launched a bid to be at the centre of a huge national celebration to honour our armed forces.

Council leaders want the city to become the stage for a week of displays on land, sea and air by thousands of army, navy and air force personnel.

Now councillors and business leaders have urged everyone to get behind a push to bring the Armed Forces Week celebrations to Portsmouth in 2014.

The year will also mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, 100 years since the start of the First World War and 350 years since the founding of the Royal Marines.

Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, former First Sea Lord and Portsmouth resident, said the plan had his whole-hearted support.

He said: ‘I think it would be an absolutely excellent idea.

‘It will be an important memorial year because of the First World War and D-Day anniversaries.

‘And it would be a very good idea to have it in Portsmouth.

‘We have great military and naval heritage and I can’t think of a better place for it.

‘All the arrangements are in place here, with the naval dockyard and museums, to pull it off.’

The Armed Forces Week will hopefully include a forces’ parade as its grand finale.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said he had written to the Ministry of Defence to register the city’s interest.

He said: ‘It is so important to keep that strong link between the city and the armed forces.

‘We have an amazing history but it is also about the future and ensuring that Portsmouth stays the home of the Royal Navy and continues working with all the services.’

Conservative culture, leisure and sport spokesman, Cllr Jim Fleming, said he was fully in favour of the bid.

He said: ‘This would be a terrific boost for the city’s economy and will be an opportunity to show the city in the best light possible.’

Chairman of the Portsmouth Cultural Partnership Steve Pitt added: ‘It is not about celebrating warmongering, it is about celebrating our long history of being associated with people who have given their lives to keep us safe and free.

‘It would be amazing and really put Portsmouth on the map.’

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