Organisers Thank Community For Armed Forces Day Support

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The organiser of Scilly’s Armed Forces Day says he couldn’t have asked for more from the community or the weather forecast.

Smudge Smith is pleased with the turnout and support at Saturday’s Army Cadets’ parade on Holgate’s Green. The event raised money for the charity Combat Stress.

Jenny Bagnall of the Armed Forces Day Committee said it was a really well supported, enjoyable afternoon with fantastic entertainment from the Sunset Syncopaters, Scilly Sirens and the Five Islands School choir.

The afternoon included words and thoughts from community and church leaders and began with an address by Council Vice Chairman Gaz O’Neill.

This year, for the first time, the cadets demonstrated some of the skills they’ve learned at their weekly sessions on the Garrison, including camp cooking and camouflage.

Cadet Emily Smith displayed some of the weapons they’re trained to handle. She says there were lots of questions asked of the youngsters about their training and she described how they use the range, safety procedures, stripping and cleaning weapons and drill practice.

Smudge Smith says young people can gain some important skills by volunteering with the Cadets and another six new recruits have joined during the last week.

Organiser Tony Smith says at 22 members, they’re almost back to their record number of 25 youngsters.

He feels that more positive press coverage of the Forces’ contribution to UK life has piqued interest. And youngsters enjoy the Army-funded trips to the mainland, which Tony says provide good training and experience.

For the past 5 years, Smudge has been trying to re-start a Royal British Legion branch in Scilly. He says it looks likely and he’s spoken to the mainland secretary about how an islands’ group can be re-established. They need 15 members and 10 have already shown an interest.

Smudge says he wants to change preconceptions about the legion being about “old boys sitting in the corner of the club.” He says they’d welcome younger members and the skills and enthusiasm they’d bring.

The Cadets can also be affiliated to any new branch set up in Scilly and Smudge will speak to the Head Teacher about working more closely with the school.

The flag flying above the Town Hall, marking the islands’ support of the national week, will be lowered this morning during a short ceremony.

You can see more photos from the event here.