I am pleased to be able to provide further details of our plans to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict in June 2007.
The commemorations will provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the events of 25 years ago. We will take time to remember those who gave their lives to defend the freedom of the Falkland Islands. As well as the principal events in London, Pangbourne and Stanley, we anticipate that local communities and veterans’ groups around the country may wish to organise their own smaller scale events.
Our relationship with Argentina has come a long way in recent years and, in addition to remembering the sacrifices of our forces, we will recognise their losses too. Our commemorations will not be triumphalist.
Official events begin on Liberation Day Thursday 14 June at the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel in the grounds of Pangbourne Nautical College, Berkshire. This service of commemoration and remembrance is held annually on behalf of the Falklands Families Association, but will have special significance in 2007 when it will be attended by senior members of the royal family, and carried live on BBC.
Later that day (UK time) attention will turn to the Falkland Islands and the first of a series of live link-ups with the islands. A service at Christchurch Cathedral, Stanley will be followed by an Act of Commemoration at the Falklands War Memorial, and British Forces currently based on the islands will parade through Stanley exercising the freedom that was bestowed on them by the Falkland Islands Government in 2002.
The showpiece event of these commemorations will be on Sunday 17 June. This will consist of a high impact visual event on Horse Guards parade followed by a march past of veterans and their modern day service counterparts up the Mall to Buckingham palace to witness a fly past of aircraft from the Falklands era as well as some of those flown by the same squadrons today. Central to the event will be the personal recollections of veterans and islanders as they tell their stories in their own words.
The events will be focussed on the veterans and their families and we are working closely with the South Atlantic Medal Association 82—the principal association for those involved in ‘Operation Corporate’, along with a wide range of veterans and families organisations. I hope that as many as possible of the campaign’s veterans will be able to attend the event on Horse Guards parade. Space in the audience will be limited, so tickets will initially be restricted to veterans (military and civilian), widows, their guests and families. Details can be found on the Veterans Agency’s website at: www.veteransagency.mod.uk or by contacting the Veterans’ Agency helpline on 0800 169 2277.
A limited number of seats for the Horse Guards event are available to hon. Members; the Speaker’s Office will issue tickets in due course.