Armed Forces Day Edinburgh 2012

It arrived! Yesterday was the day that we’d been waiting on, it was, of course Armed Forces Day!

Across the country yesterday there were several events, some themed like the 1940’s Day in Halifax and some just a simple show of thanks and support like here in Edinburgh.

I’ve been looking forward to Armed Forces Day, some of my readers or followers on Twitter may have picked up on that…

Organising the family getting there was left down to me.  Thankfully this year it was only my Mother and sister so gathering them in the one place and keeping them together was relatively easy.  Last year I was put in charge of my uncle.  It didn’t last.  He marched in the parade and then disappeared.  I finally found him in the queue for burger and chips, he was three sheets to the wind having gone straight from the parade to the beer tent.  I also lost my friend but my uncle informed me she was also in the beer tent with her dad.  Everyone, it appeared, was in the beer tent apart from me who was looking for everyone else.  Why I didn’t go straight to the beer tent I’ll never know, in hindsight it would have been the most logical place to look.

Anyway, no uncle this year, his regiment didn’t parade.  So my Mother, sister and I rendezvoused outside BHS on Princes Street and then went for a quick cup of tea and a sandwich at Scott’s in Princes Street Gardens West.  Thrilling eh?

This years Armed Forces Day was always going to be a smaller event than last year because last year we hosted it and it was massive.  There was Royalty in the form of Prince Charles and Camilla and even David Cameron was there.

This year was smaller in every way, but just as good.  The parade of veterans and cadets began in Kings Stables Road and made its way into Princes Street Gardens via the rail bridge.  The sight of the the British Armed Forces appearing over a hill, as they need to do to get on the rail bridge, is rather stirring.

The parade continued on through the gardens to the Ross Bandstand.  It was a small parade and was effective but for me it could have been bigger.  I much prefer the route down from the Castle to the Royal Mile.  Plus I missed the bikers.  I know they were around but a shame they weren’t part of the parade.  However, positives first, it was wonderful to see many veterans and cadets taking part in a parade to honour our Armed Forces.

After the end of the parade there was a gap before the fly over.  So I gathered my Mother and sister and wandered along past the charity stalls.  Help for Heroes were there, Scottish War Blinded, The Mark Wright Project, Veterans First Point, Blesma The Limbless Veterans, Scottish Veterans Residences and more.  I know I missed some out there, please point out who I have missed and I will add them in.

There was also, of course, at the Ross Fountain, the stands promoting and recruiting our Armed Forces.  The Royal Air Force was there, the Army, the Royal Navy were there with focus on HMS Portland.  If anyone has ever paid attention to anything I write, I fell in love with HMS Portland last year when she was docked in Ocean Terminal and my sister and I were on board as part of last years Armed Forces Day.  HMS Portland is a type 23 frigate and Commander Sarah West took command earlier this year making her the first female commander of a major warship.

The Royal Marines were also there.  Now, last year, after sorting out my uncle I then disappeared.  Cue my sister and my Mother beginning to ponder where I was.  They found me, after a period of searching, in the tent of the Royal Marines.  The same was true this year.  I spotted the green berets and there was not much to distract me from them.  I think all of the Armed Forces are fantastic but I do have a specific fondness for the Royal Marines whom I consider, amazing.

Anyway, moving on.  At 1345 there was a fly-past by the RAF Typhoons.  It was, as ever, stunning.  However, I didn’t get a picture of the fly-past despite having my camera primed and ready to go moments before.  My Mother distracted me so when the fly-past arrived there was no time to get a picture. I seem to be slightly jinxed when it comes to Typhoons.  Their previous fly-past over Edinburgh saw me get one terrible shot before falling over on Princes Street.

After the fly-past we made our way to the Ross Bandstand where we took in The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

After that we watched the Kennedy Cupcakes perform a couple of routines before engaging the crowd (and the Sea Cadets).  Lots of fun and a great way to keep warm!

We left the Bandstand after that because, despite the sun coming out briefly, it was cold.  We took a walk back along to the Fountain for a final look around the stands and at the vehicles and weaponry on display.

Armed Forces Day always attempts to bankrupt me and this year was no different.  Put a teddy bear on display and if it’s to do with the Armed Forces it’s pretty much guaranteed I’ll purchase it.  This year it was Baxter Bear.  Cute little thing, and he’s got a patch on his arm from where he’s been injured.  So, naturally, he was bought.

After a final farewell to the Marines (haha – no, really) we headed off home.  Another successful Armed Forces Day, that is the opinion of Mother, sister and I.  The weather wasn’t great but the rain did hold off for a lot of the time.  It was good to see many young people at the stands for all the services asking questions and having a shot of the equipment.  There was plenty going on to keep the children occupied, a bouncy castle, beat the goalie and an inflatable assault course.  Wanted a shot of that…
Anyway, there seemed to be a good turn out of people along to support and thank our British Armed Forces.
Here’s to next year!
There are more pictures here.