Royal Navy veterans gather at memorial plantation to honour the Falklands fallen as city’s Lord Mayor hosts dedication ceremony

VETERANS joined together in a moment of reflection at Portsdown Hill this afternoon as a dedication ceremony was held at the Falklands Memorial Plantation.

Monday, 9th May 2022, 7:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 6:23 pm

A total of 258 beech trees were planted at the site in 1982, marking every British and Falkland Islander life lost in the conflict.

Frank Jonas, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, was present at the rededication of the memorial held ten years ago, and joined those at today’s ceremony to honour the fallen.

The event was his Lord Mayor’s dedication, and he said: ‘It just reminds me of how peaceful this memorial is, and it has certainly grown a lot in 10 years.

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The Royal Naval Association held a dedication cermony with the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Frank Jonas, at the Falklands Memorial Plantation on Portsdown Hill Road, Portsmouth, on Monday, May 9. Pictured is: (l-r) The mayoress of Portsmouth Joy Maddox, David MacAskill and the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Frank Jonas. Picture: Sarah Standing (090522-3625)

‘We won’t forget, and this site helps to remind us - it is a proper place for veterans to come and reflect.

‘It is overlooking Portsmouth, where a lot of the task force was from.’

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Standard bearers from a number of associations stood with piper Caroline Henton alongside Bishop Paul Miles-Knight as he gave his address to those gathered at Portsdown Hill.

The Royal Naval Association held a dedication cermony with the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Frank Jonas, at the Falklands Memorial Plantation on Portsdown Hill Road, Portsmouth, on Monday, May 9. Pictured is: (back) Standard bearers with (right) piper Caroline Henton and (front l-r) David MacAskill, The Mayoress of Portsmouth Joy Maddox, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Frank Jonas and Bishop Paul Miles-Knight. Picture: Sarah Standing (090522-3621)

After the ceremony, the bishop said: ‘I’m very pleased with how things went today - it’s something we wanted to do particularly for Frank, who has uniquely done three years as Lord Mayor.

‘This is sad but it is also a celebration of the comradeship between the veterans. It’s not necessarily just a sad and solemn event - the Falklanders are still free because of the sacrifices made.

‘The memorial plantation is also important, particularly being in Portsmouth, the home of the Royal Navy.’

Poppy seeds were sown at the plantation by those present, and a piper’s lament was followed by some time for reflection.

Chris Purcell, a survivor of HMS Sheffield, was the first one to sow the seeds.

He said: ‘I thought it was brilliant, it was a good turn out by the standard bearers.

‘I think it’s a nice place to go - you can have a sit down on the grass and gather your thoughts. I’ve got a mate that goes up there every Tuesday morning.

‘I think it’s important to remember. This is why we’re telling our stories, so the younger generation can learn about how we liberated the islands.’

The event was organised in collaboration with David MacAskill, who has his own ties to the military community and provides clothing and merchandise to both the serving and veteran community.

David, the voluntary chairperson of the Armed Forces Covenant programme for Shaping Portsmouth, has spent the last three months working part time for the Royal Naval Association, which sponsored this event.

David said: ‘I think the dedication ceremony today went very well - it was a nice, small intimate group.’

The Falklands Memorial Plantation is located across the road from the Churchillian pub and just west of the Portsdown Hill viewpoint.

David added: ‘It’s a place for a moment of reflection. It is here for a reason, and it is important that people know it is here.’

The Royal Naval Association is a free to join organisation that is for both people that have served in the Royal Navy and now encourages families to become associate members to participate in local and national events.