Somerset will be flying the flag for our Armed Forces in the coming weeks at several important events.
The Somerset Armed Forces Covenant Partnership, of which Somerset County Council is a key supporter, has events planned to coincide with National Armed Forces Day (25 June). In Taunton, a regional conference event is being held on Thursday 23 June, Battle of the Somme Commemoration (30 June) and a Victoria Cross Memorial will be dedicated in Rode Village in Frome (2 July).
The County Council will be flying the Armed Forces flag, and Cllr Christopher Le Hardy, Member Champion and Chair of the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant said: “This is a very busy time for Somerset Armed Forces Covenant Partnership and Somerset County Council. We are joining together to promote the work of SAFCP and also looking ahead to find new and important ways to support our Forces community across Somerset.”
The aim of the Conference on 23 June is to raise the profile of the Armed Forces Covenant in Somerset. They will be looking at the needs of the Armed Forces Community and in doing so, hope to ensure public services will gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by the Armed Forces community in the county.
There are a wide range of government services and agencies that already deliver support to the wider Armed Forces community from Early Years help to housing, education, to health of veterans and the injured. SAFCP want to make sure the forces community are fully aware of the range of support and help that they are entitled to.
To mark national events leading up to Armed Forces Week across the UK, on Monday 20 June, Armed Forces Flags will be flying outside County Hall in Taunton, at West Somerset District Council and outside many other public building across the County. These flags will fly all week to honour serving troops, families, veterans and cadets.
SAFCP would also like to encourage parishes, communities and places of faith to open their premises and memorials to the public who may be interested in holding overnight candlelit vigils or events for the centenary commemoration of the Battle of the Somme on 30 June 2016.
In Frome, on the 2 July Cllr Christopher Le Hardy, Member Champion and Chair of the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant will be attending a Victoria Cross memorial event in Rode Village, which is being hosted by the Parish Council.
The event is to commemorate Lieutenant Arthur Batten-Poolls who was awarded the Victoria Cross in Collene, France on 26 June 1916. He was also an active member of the village of Rode as the ‘Lord of the Manor’ he had great input within the local community. When injuries he sustained during the First World War prevented him from fighting in the second he ran the local Home Guard, donated ground to build the village memorial hall and regularly gave funding to the local school right up until his death in 1971.
On 2 July there will be a commemorative grave side ceremony, followed by the unveiling of plaques dedicated to his memory in and outside the Memorial Hall. Part of the celebrations includes the unveiling of a Government issued paving stone that is given to each Victoria Cross recipient’s place of birth.
Further information on the SAFCP and the Ministry of Defence Covenant Fund is available via: www.somerset.gov.uk/forcescovenant. If your organisation is interested in applying to the Covenant Fund the SAFCP ask you to make contact by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by speaking to Cllr Christopher Le Hardy directly via CLeHardy@somerset.gov.uk.