For the past six years Coldstream’s show of support for the armed forces, its Parade of Colours, has traditionally been held a week before Armed Forces Day and this year was no exception.
Since Monday, Armed Forces Day flags have been flying on public buildings across the UK this week, including Scottish Borders Council HQ in the run-up to a whole series of events across the country on Saturday, June 27, but Coldstream was ahead of the game.
Just before mid-day on Saturday, June 20, cadets from across Northumberland, youth organisations, school pupils, community groups and veterans mustered at Leet Bridge and marched along Coldstream High Street to Henderson Park, where a short service of commemoration was held at the Coldstream Guards stone.
An unusual feature of the Coldstream Armed Forces event is the presence of motor bikes of the RBLS Riders Branch, who were once again present in force, and the salute was taken by Berwickshire Vice Lord Lieutenant Peter Leggate, who also gave an excellent speech in Henderson Park.
Music for the parade and for the subsequent events in the town was provided by the Combined Cadet Force Ashington Pipe Band, Norham Village Band and Northumberland Church of England Academy Pipe Band.
Parade organiser, Keith Cockburn, Sgt. Instructor (former) CG ACF, was delighted with the huge turn-out of youngsters. He is focused on ensuring that future generations understand the sacrifice made by so many in the past and that events such as the Parade of Colours and Armed Forces Day remain important dates on the calendar.
Over recent months he has been fund raising to help pay for pupils from Kelso and Berwickshire High Schools to visit the battlefields of World War 1 in France and Belgium and earlier this year he took part in a sponsored tour of war memorials across the Borders and north Northumberland to raise money for the Battlefield Tour fund.
Officers, instructors and Cadets of 1016 Sqn Berwick Air Training Corps formed the Guard of Honour on the day and also made a donation in excess of £200 to the Battlefields Tours fund.
The Parade of Colours has become an important day for many with a connection to Coldstream and the parents of Michael Sweeney, a Coldstream Guard who died in Afghanistan in 2011 at the age of 19, regularly travel up from Blyth in Northumerland to attend the event, gaining comfort from the visible support of the town.
Two years ago Commanding Officer 6 SCOTS Lt. Col Sean Fitzpatrick and Colonel Vernon of the Coldstream Guards unveiled the ‘Operation Herrick Afghanistan’ stone which was then laid in Henderson Park, in the flowerbed where crosses and poppies have been placed by the families of the lost servicemen.
The inscription on the stone simply reads: ‘Operation Herrick, Afghanistan ‘Thank you never seems enough”.
On a happier note this year’s Parade of Colours ceremony also included a successful marriage proposal by Coldstream Guard veteran Mick Lidster in front of the Guards Stone in Henderson Park.
After Saturday’s event, Keith Cockburn thanked everyone who took part in the parade and added: “To those who took the time to line the streets on Saturday - thank you.
“We will never enjoy the support of Civic Week, which is unfortunate, but we will continue with what we do. Our next Parade of Colours will be held the weekend of June 17-19, 2016, to support our veterans, remember our fallen, and promote our local youth - the future of remembrance.
“Thank you never seems enough.”