�1,500 for heroes as thousands mark Sidmouth's Armed Forces Day

THOUSANDS of people helped Sidmouth mark the first Armed Forces Day on Saturday.

THOUSANDS of people helped Sidmouth mark the first Armed Forces Day on Saturday.

The celebrations, organised by local branches of the Royal British Legion (RBL), are expected to have raised around �1,500 for the Help for Heroes charity.

Organising chairman Dave O' Connor said between two and three thousand people enjoyed the afternoon's events, which included a parade and special drumhead service at the Ham, and helped make a "massively important day" a memorable one.

He said: "It went extremely well. The parade was bigger than we've ever had before, even on Remembrance Day.

"We've been doing this for the last four or five years, this year we tried to get the younger element involved and it worked well.

We've had a tremendous amount of sponsorship from residents and will definitely be back next year when I think it will be even better. We are always looking for more people to come along and joint the legion and help us.

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Armed Forces representatives, led by Sidmouth Town Band, marched through town before the service and were joined by Royal Naval Old Comrades, Air and Army Cadets, Scouts, Brownies and Guides.

East Devon MP Hugo Swire marched with his local branch of the legion, the Sidbury and Sidford group.

He said: "Armed Forces Day is extremely important. It is important to have an event where we can acknowledge the work of forces past and present, as opposed to remembering them in a solemn way.

"As a parliamentarian it is key to stress this because ultimately we are the ones who send these people to fight in wars across the world - playing an integral part in defending our nation's freedom.