VIDEO: A weekend of partying and poignancy

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War heroes and veterans rounded off a week of poignant armed forces events during a day of activities in a bustling part of Blackpool.

Around 5,000 residents and holidaymakers enjoyed live music from the band of the Kings Division and Irish Guard singers in St John’s Square as the curtain was brought down on the town’s Armed Forces Week events.

National Armed Forces Day in Blackpool.

National Armed Forces Day in Blackpool.

Memories of the Second World War, from the Hurricane, which was flown in the Battle of Britain, to a range of military vehicles, were all on display for the public to pose alongside.

The crowd were also given a glimpse of a German Messerschmitt plane and the sounds of popular music from the 1940s.

Amanda French, of the Battle of Britain Experience, said: “Armed Forces Week is really good and this set up attracts a lot of people of all ages.

“The children see the planes as an adventure and love to get close and touch them because of what they did in the war.”

National Armed Forces Day in Blackpool.  Victoria Ivanov and Jemma Drake.

National Armed Forces Day in Blackpool. Victoria Ivanov and Jemma Drake.

Steve Flitcroft, area secretary of the Military Vehicle Trust, added: “Blackpool supports the armed forces well and they have done for the last few years.

“It seems to be going from strength to strength and a lot of other towns are now following our lead.”

The event followed a prestigious dinner which brought together more than 800 veterans and serving members of the military.

The Norbreck Castle Hotel hosted its three course gala dinner for past and present servicemen and women in the grand hall.

Blackpool's Armed Forces Week came to a climax with a service of dedication at the cenotaph.

Blackpool's Armed Forces Week came to a climax with a service of dedication at the cenotaph.

Entertainment was provided by a range of singers and was given a military touch by the Royal Artillery Band.

Paul Hunt, duty manager at the Queens Promenade-based hotel, said: “We hold this most years and it’s a very successful evening. Everyone had a good time and you could tell by the smiles on everyone’s faces they were enjoying the entertainment.”

Overall, it is thought around 20,000 people have taken part in this year’s Armed Forces Week in Blackpool.

Marketing Blackpool event organiser Chris Pope said: “Armed Forces Week is a very important event in Blackpool’s calendar and we are always delighted by the number of people who support it.

“We feel that one day is not enough to pay tribute to our armed forces past and present and therefore we arrange a full week of activities to ensure as many people as possible can be involved.

“This is our way of saying thank you and giving everybody else the opportunity to do the same.

“This year the week has been a great success and we look forward to supporting this event for many years to come.”

Cenotaph service to end Armed Forces Week

Hundreds of veterans, cadets and residents paid their respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country during a moving service and parade.

Coun Eddie Collett, the Mayor of Blackpool, joined MPs, Blackpool Council cabinet members and war heroes at Blackpool War Memorial for the very final act of the resort’s Armed Forces Week.

Proud families looked on as the parade set off from the war memorial and spread down Blackpool’s famous Promenade.

Mick Cullum, parade marshall, said: “This is the perfect way to round off Armed Forces Week.

“We’ve got a good couple of hundred veterans here and it’s nice to see both the young and old veterans together.

“It’s good for the public to come out and support the veterans.

“Blackpool always gives great support to these events and does us proud, not only during this parade, but on everyday during this week, and all the businesses have given us brilliant support.”

Kevin Smith, 74, a Royal Navy veteran from Collyhurst Avenue, South Shore, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many members of the public coming out to support the veterans.

“We have got the young and the old taking part, and with the war in Afghanistan youngsters are brought up with it and see so many people putting their lives on the line.”

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