VIPs from public services and the Armed Forces will gather outside County Hall in Taunton on 21 June to honour Service personnel past and present at the start of Armed Forces Week.
The Armed Forces flag will be raised by Somerset County Council’s Vice Chair, Cllr Mark Keating. He will be joined by senior figures including: Rear Admiral Rhett Hatcher, UK Hydrographic Office; Commodore Niall Griffin MBE, Commanding Officer, Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton; Lt Col Andy Dow, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Royal Marines; and Brigadier (Retd) Steve Hodder, Chief Executive Wessex Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association.
Cllr Keating will be accompanied by Cllr David Fothergill, Leader, Somerset County Council, Cllr Rod Williams, who chairs the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant Partnership and the Chief Executive of Somerset County Council, Pat Flaherty.
Cllr Keating said: “It is an honour for us to be joined by so many distinguished guests in person. Last year’s flag raising came during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. It is fitting that this year we can be joined by representatives from the NHS and the Armed Forces who have done so much for our county and country in fighting the virus and administering vaccines.”
The event comes as Somerset County Council steps up its long-standing commitment to Armed Forces veterans.
The Council has launched the Veterans Guaranteed Interview Scheme. This means that a veteran who has left the Armed Forces in the last five years – and their partner – will be guaranteed an interview with the authority if they apply and meet the essential criteria for the job.
“As a signatory to the Armed Forces Covenant, SCC recognises the valuable transferable skills veterans bring and we want to support ex-Service personnel to access our employment opportunities,” said Chris Squire, the Council’s Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development.
“We recognise that for some veterans, the transition to civilian life can be challenging, particularly in finding and securing lasting employment. The scheme has been introduced to further our commitment to equality and to support ex-Service personnel in accessing employment opportunities.”
Cllr Williams said: “This flag raising reaffirms Somerset’s commitment to support those in the Armed Forces community, whether they are a Regular, Reservist, Veteran, Cadet, or their immediate family.
“The military calling is like no other in the demands of military training, operations and combat. We owe it to our Regular and Reservist Servicemen and women to give them every support and an appreciative home to return to. We owe it to our Veterans to recognise their service and to value the exceptional skills they have developed. And we owe it to their families to understand the demands of service in the Armed Forces.”
Somerset County Council’s commitment to the Armed Forces has been recognised with a Silver Award as part of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme set up by the Ministry of Defence.
Wessex RFCA is organising a virtual event on Saturday 26 June on its Facebook page:Wessex RFCA | Facebook, between 10am and 4pm with content, including videos and music, posted throughout the day.
Further information about the Somerset Armed Forces Covenant is available at www.somerset.gov.uk/forcescovenant. You can find out about our current job opportunities at www.somerset.gov.uk/jobs-and-careers