The newly established Mid & East Antrim Council have pulled off a major military ‘coup’ - but the ‘takeover’ by the armed forces will be entirely friendly!
As host area for the 2015 Armed Forces Day event in Northern Ireland, Mid & East Antrim councillors and representatives of the armed forces gathered in Ballymena’s Braid Centre to formally launch their programme of events - and, according to Council Chairman, Billy Ashe, the three day schedule is set to be spectacular.
Cllr. Ashe said: “Plans are well underway and we will have superb family activities taking across the three main towns of Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne over the weekend of June 19 to 21.”
The curtain raising event will be a maritime display in Carrickfergus on June 19.
Cllr. John Sterwart, Chairman of the Armed Forces Steering Group explained that Ballymena would become the focus of attention on June 20.
“There will be an all-day programme opening with a military, veterans and cadts parade through the town to the Showgrounds.
“This will be followed by a drumhead service and welcome ceremony.”
The outgoing Mayor of Ballymena, Cllr. Audrey Wales said that participants and spectators will be able to enjoy an exciting range of arena displays, sports competitions between military and civilian teams and a wide variety of exhibitions.
“The day’s celebrations will conclude with a ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony,” she added.
The finale event will be staged in Larne on Sunday, June 21 and will include a church service with military music support and tri-service military representation.
Cllr. Stewart said that Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne had maintained a proud military tradition down through the years.
“Many serving military personnel hail from Mid and East Antrim and we are proud of that link,” he added.
In closing, Cllr. Billy Ashe echoed these sentiments, saying: “Events like this are vitally important in further strengthening our close relationships with our armed forces. They help remind veterans that the local community is here to support them.”