Ministry of Defence
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Blackpool chosen to hold National Veterans Day celebrations and eligibility to apply for Veterans Badges extended

Blackpool chosen to hold National Veterans Day celebrations and eligibility to apply for Veterans Badges extended

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE News Release (012/2008) issued by The Government News Network on 29 January 2008

Minister for Veterans, Derek Twigg announced today that Blackpool has been chosen to hold this year's National Veterans Day event. During a ceremony at the Imperial War Museum in London, Mr Twigg also announced that eligibility to apply for the HM Armed Forces Veterans Badge and UK Merchant Seafarers Veterans Badge has been extended to include all those who have served in UK Armed Forces. This means that veterans of the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are now eligible.

The third annual Veterans Day on 27 June 2008 is a chance for the nation to recognise the contribution made by veterans of all ages in conflicts both past and present. A large number of Veterans Day events, ranging in size, will be taking place across the UK during the summer.

Derek Twigg, Under Secretary of State for Defence and Veterans Minister, said:

"We have had a number of excellent bids to host this year's celebrations, but after careful consideration Blackpool Council's efforts stood out. I congratulate them on the excellence of their bid.

"Veterans are of all ages with a variety of different backgrounds, and they all deserve our recognition. Not only have they honoured their commitment to defend our country's interests in Service, they have also used their skills and experiences to enrich their local communities. With the establishment of an annual Veterans Day, June 27 is our chance to recognise the achievements of those veterans who live amongst us."

Blackpool Council has planned nine days of veterans' events to pay tribute to the contributions veterans make to their community. Exciting attractions include an Aero GP where veteran pilots will compete in performing demonstrations of dog fighting and target bombing, and a Veterans Badge Challenge in which veterans will attempt to climb Blackpool Tower, and dive to the bottom of a shark tank to retrieve their badges.

The Ministry of Defence has pledged to fund £25K towards the cost of Blackpool's celebrations. Funding is also available to support numerous other events taking place throughout the UK. The deadline for applying for funding to support Veteran's Day events is 31 May 2008.

A Veterans Day National Event flag was presented to Blackpool veteran Oliver Shillitoe, 24, formerly of 12 Regiment Royal Artillery. Oliver will take the flag back to Blackpool where it will fly for Veterans Day.

Oliver said:

"I am very proud to accept this flag on behalf of everyone in Blackpool. As a young veteran myself I am delighted that my home town is doing so much to recognise and celebrate former members of the Armed Forces. I am really looking forward to the week of Veterans activities and events planned around Veterans Day on June 27."

John Nichol, a former RAF Tornado navigator shot down during the Gulf War, attended the ceremony to lend his support to Veterans Day.

John said:

"I am proud to call myself a Veteran of the Armed Forces and I am delighted with the growing success of Veterans Day in giving recognition to Veterans for the service they have given to their country and to their community. Congratulations to everyone in Blackpool who put together their bid, I am sure the range of events they have planned will be a huge success."

Mayor of Blackpool, Councillor Robert Wynne, said:

"Blackpool is absolutely delighted to have been chosen as the host for National Veterans Day 2008, it's a great honour for the town. Blackpool has many historical links with the Armed Forces and has a special place in the heart of many veterans. Every year we welcome a large number of Ex-Service Associations into the resort for their annual reunions.

"We have been holding an annual Veterans Week here in Blackpool since 2005, and plans are already well underway to make this year's celebration even more special. We look forward to welcoming veterans all ages to take part in our celebratory and commemorative events"

Mr Twigg said:

"The enormous debt that we owe to the veterans who have faithfully served their country over the years should not be forgotten. This is why we established the Veterans Badge in 2004. It has proved enormously popular, with over 550,000 badges issued to date. I am particularly delighted to be able to include those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan where our outstanding Armed Forces continue to demonstrate their courage and professionalism in bringing peace and stability to these countries."

Notes to Editors:

1. Bids which met the Veterans Day funding criteria to host the National Event were also received from Manchester and Liverpool. The bids were judged against five pre-determined factors. These were: Veterans contributions past and present; Support for Veterans; Diversity of Veterans; Intergenerational dialogue; and Organisational and financial foundations.

2. Further details of the National Veterans Day event in Blackpool will be announced in due course.

3. Applications forms and guidelines on how to apply for funding are available on the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency website at http://www.veterans-uk.info. Details of all planned Veterans Day activities will appear in the Calendar of Events at http://www.veterans-uk.info/veteransday08. This calendar can be accessed by any organiser who wishes to enter details of their Veterans Day event.

4. The HM Armed Forces Veterans Badge was launched in May 2004 and since then its eligibility has been gradually extended from the First and Second World War veterans, to whom it was initially issued, to successive generations of veterans so that all may be united under one badge. The UK Merchant Seafarers Veterans Badge was introduced, in 2006, as a special version of the HM Armed Forces Veterans Badge to reflect the unique relationship that the Merchant Navy and fishermen have held with the Armed Forces, during UK military operations, over the years. Today's extension means that all veterans are now eligible to apply for these badges from the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency. Since 1 February 2005 HM Armed Forces Veterans' Badges have been given as standard to all personnel leaving Service.

5. Applications for the HM Armed Forces Veteran's Badge detailing, name, address, date of birth, Service number, period of service and theatres of service should be sent to Veterans Services, Service Personnel and Veterans Agency, Norcross, Blackpool, FY5 3WP.

6. Applications for the UK Merchant Seafarers Veteran's Badge detailing, name, address, date of birth, Discharge Book number, periods and theatres of service should be sent to either the Merchant Navy Association, 9 Saxon Way, Caistor, Market Rasen, LN7 6SG or Federation of Merchant Mariners, 16 Glebe Road, Brampton, Huntingdon, PE28 4PH.

7. For more information visit the website http://www.mod.uk

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