On Friday 28th June 2013, shipmates of Huntingdon & District Branch, Bill Small and Karl Webb, were joined by Shipmate Keith Ridley (St Neots Branch), representatives of the Armed Forces, Royal British Legion, RAFA Association and various local brigades and official organisations at the Huntingdon District Council (HDC) headquarters, Pathfinder House.
The purpose of this gathering was to show the community support for our serving, and former, members of the Armed Forces by taking part in the ‘Fly a Flag Campaign’ in support of Armed Forces day 2013. The Chairman of HDC, Councillor Barbara Boddington, welcomed all guests to Pathfinder House before leading us into Samian Court for the ceremony.
It was a wet start to the day. Councillor Barbara Boddington, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Colonel Derek Bristow OBE, and the Bishop of Huntingdon, Bishop David Thompson, took their places before the Standard bearers of local organisations (including the RNA Standards from Huntingdon and St Neots Branches) marched into the court.
Once the Standard bearers were in position, Bishop David Thompson ‘Blessed’ the Armed Forces Day Flag.
Councillor Boddington addresses the invited guests before the Armed Forces Day Flag is raised.
With the AFD Flag raised in front of Pathfinder House, Lieutenant John Shaw, Cambridgeshire AFC Corps of Drums, sounded the Last Post. Then a minutes silence was observed by all before John Shaw sounded Reveille.
In the original programme, a medal ceremony was to take place outside Pathfinder House, but due to the weather conditions, it was decided that this would take place inside at the reception for all guests. The Standard bearers were marched off.
The buildings opposite Pathfinder House are also significant, as we were reminded later…
Once inside Pathfinder House, the ceremony continued with a presentation by Councillor Boddington of the Arctic Star to a former merchant seaman, Cecil Isham.
After the medal presentation, the new Commander of the 423rd Air Base Group, RAF Alcolnbury, Colonel Stephen Sweeney, gave a speech on the significance of recognising Armed Forces of all nations. Colonel Sweeney also reminded everyone of the significance of the building opposite Pathfinder House, the former council HQ, Castle Hill House – the building was the wartime home of the RAF Pathfinder Squadron.
The next speech was by Colonel Derek Bristow in his role as Deputy Lord Lieutenant; he also discussed the importance of honouring our Armed Forces and that HM the Queen was delighted at the events taking place around the United Kingdom and overseas.
Once all the speeches had finished, Councillor Boddington invited guests to stay for a reception in Pathfinder House. With the AFD Flag flying between the two buildings, Huntingdon District Council had once again shown their support to our Armed Forces.