Portsmouth bids to stage 2018 national Armed Forces Day celebration

PORTSMOUTH is throwing its hat in the ring to stage the nation's biggest Armed Forces Day celebration next year.

Monday, 23rd January 2017, 6:00 am
A free day of entertainment was held at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for Armed Forces Day last year. Veteran Paul Hyde gets a smacker from Anna Mould, left, and Vie Portland from the Strolling Sirens Picture: Ian Hargreaves (160844-3)

Council bosses and political leaders have united behind a bid to bring the national spectacle’s official centrepiece to the city’s streets.

It comes after the Ministry of Defence issued a call to the nation, urging cities and communities to bid in helping stage the event, which is marking the occasion’s 10th anniversary.

The city has until March to submit its bid, with councillors set to discuss their plans at a meeting next week.

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But it’s hoped that if Portsmouth is successful, the military bonanza will help boost the area’s profile even more.

Flick Drummond, Portsmouth South MP, has backed the effort and called on the city to unite behind it.

She said: ‘I know the day will be supported magnificently by the people of Portsmouth who are so very proud of the Royal Navy especially, but also all our armed forces.’

The event is a chance to celebrate the contribution made by the nation’s serving personnel and reserves, as well veterans, cadets and military families.

Celebrations will take place up and down the country, but the host of the national event will be the main focus of the nationwide festivities.

Councillor Frank Jonas is the armed forces champion for Portsmouth City Council.

He said: ‘This would be a magical thing for the city.

‘We have got a meeting next week with the armed forces covenant team.

‘We will be pushing to put our hat in the ring to host this.’

The push is backed by Tory council boss Donna Jones, who has already approached the government about it.

She said: ‘I’m sure there will be stiff competition but Portsmouth has demonstrated it can host world-class events. The D-Day 70th anniversary commemorations show what we are capable of doing and the passion this city has to recognise those who serve our country.

‘The 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War will make 2018’s event particularly poignant, but it is not just Portsmouth’s historic links to the armed forces that make it an ideal focal point for the nation.

‘By then we will be home to one of the nation’s new aircraft carriers with the second carrier to arrive in 2019, meaning we continue to be at the centre of the nation’s armed forces, both now and into the future.’

This year’s national event is being staged by Liverpool City Council.

Portsmouth has until March 15 to submit its proposals for the 2018 date.

The winner will be revealed later this year.