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Home » News » D-Day 80: Update from the Armed Forces Champion

D-Day 80: Update from the Armed Forces Champion

June 14, 2024

The Armed Forces Champion of the city serves as a point of contact for SERFCA and ex-Armed Forces personnel who need assistance and support accessing services. Its aim is to ensure that being a member or an ex-member of the Armed Forces, along with their families, does not put them at a disadvantage in any area of daily life due to their affiliation with the Armed Forces community.

This role has a broad remit and extends across all areas of services, including continuity of education for children of serving personnel and access to housing and mental health services. Policies are in place to reflect our commitment to the Armed Forces Family.

Portrait photo of Cllr Grimshaw with the ocean in the background,

As the Armed Forces Champion, I have attended many of the city’s cadet force training sessions. These cadet forces—Sea Cadets, Air Cadets, and Army Cadets—provide a challenging and stimulating contemporary experience for young people within a safe environment. Our goal is to inspire them to develop mentally and physically, pushing their limits and growing their abilities.

These visits bring me great pleasure, witnessing our young people engaged, focused, and sharing time with their cohort. The cadets benefit from dedicated adult volunteers who generously give their time to oversee and organize these activities. The camaraderie and joy are evident, and the skills learned equip them for real-life challenges.

Recently, many of our city-wide cadet forces came together to parade on Hove seafront during the D-Day 80 commemorations on June 6th. The event was well-attended by cadets, the Mayor, councillors, veterans, and members of the public. It provided an excellent opportunity for the cadets to showcase the skills they’ve worked hard to acquire.

Simultaneously, I’ve been actively supporting veterans in the city. A newly formed grassroots veterans organization called Brighton & Hove Veterans, led by veterans themselves, provides essential support. Ex-Armed Forces personnel often feel most relaxed and safe in the company of those who share similar experiences. This was evident during a visit I made, along with then-Mayor Jacqui O’Quinn, to Charlie Charlie 1 in Bognor Regis—a veteran hub, education center, and coffee shop. CC1 aims to be a welcoming drop-in space for veterans and the general public alike.

Former Mayor Cllr Jacqueline O’Quinn has been a tremendous support to me during her mayoralty year, and I wish to thank her for all her help and support in hosting events for veterans in the Mayor’s Parlour. She has also attended many of the visits and ceremonies to which I have been invited.

Brighton and Hove currently lack veteran breakfast clubs or hubs, and this is something that the new Veteran Group, Brighton & Hove Veterans, would like to address in the future. They may work in partnership with the already successful established Charlie Charlie 1 in Bognor Regis.

D-Day 80

My interest in our Armed Forces began many years ago when I first started visiting the battlefields of the Western Front. During these visits, I met a group of elderly gentlemen who were WW2 D-Day veterans, and they became good friends. Myself and another friend had many great times with them, creating wonderful memories. We even accompanied them back to the D-Day beaches. We visited Gold Beach, where my friend Jim Tuckwell had landed in the first wave on June 6th. He had been shot twice, firstly in the arm and then further up the beach, where he received a shot that narrowly missed his heart.

Jim was part of a Piat gun team, and his close friend Jimmy Haydon was also part of the team. Jimmy ran back to gather up his part of the Piat Gun. That was the last time Jim saw him. By August, Jimmy was dead, aged only 21. I visited Jimmy’s grave with Jim at the CWGC cemetery in Bayeux and watched as Jim, then in his late 80s, spoke to young Jimmy. It was a very moving experience and just one of many that I shared with my three veteran friends. Peace is something we must always strive for, and it is in dedication to my three Veteran chums that I found myself committed to the Armed Forces, ensuring that their sacrifice is not forgotten, and that they and their families should not face inequality and disadvantage.

Last week, I attended the D-Day 80 commemorations in France. It was very busy, with lots of events going on. The highlight of my trip was visiting Gold Beach early in the morning on June 6th. I was there, reflecting on that day 80 years previously when the landings had happened, and Jim had bravely come ashore, been shot, and said his last words to Jimmy Haydon. It was very poignant but also a beautiful sight—the sun was shining, the sea was lapping the beach, and it was quite still and silent. Suddenly, four planes flew overhead, the last two curving into the beach so they flew directly overhead. I felt a connection to the moment in time and the past, realizing how important it is to strive always for peace and an end to conflict.

Before I came home, I made a special trip to the cemetery in Bayeux to say hello to young Jimmy on behalf of my Jim—a promise I will always try to keep so they are not forgotten.

Chattri

No sooner was I home on the late Saturday evening than I had to get ready for the next day’s commemorations at the Chattri. I have a keen interest in the soldiers of undivided India who served in WW1, and while working at the Royal Pavilion, I undertook extensive research on the contribution and sacrifice made by these soldiers. Attending the Chattri is always an honour and a privilege, and this year, as the Armed Forces Champion of the City, I laid a wreath. I wish to send a message of thanks and support to Davinder Dillon DL OBE and his volunteers for their dedication and commitment to the Chattri Memorial.

Armed Forces Day and Boars Head commemorations

From June 24th to the 29th of June, the city will recognize Armed Forces Week. It is a chance to show support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community, including currently serving troops, Service Families, veterans, and cadets.

Supporting our armed forces, veterans and cadets this June 

A number of free events for all ages are taking place on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 June to celebrate Armed Forces Day and commemorate the Battle of Boar’s Head.  

Armed Forces Day is marked annually to show support for the Armed Forces community, including currently serving troops, service families, reserves, veterans and cadets. 

To join in on the nationwide celebrations and show our support, we’ll be flying Armed Forces Day flags from council buildings in the run up to Armed Forces Day on Saturday 29 June. 

A commemorative event will be held on Sunday 30 June commemorating the First World War Battle of the Boar’s Head in 1916 at Richebourg-l’Avoué in France. 

The service is organised by the Brighton & Hove Branch of the Royal Sussex Regimental Association and dedicated to the memory of the 366 men of the Southdown’s battalions of The Royal Sussex Regiment who lost their lives at the battle, known in regimental history as ‘The Day that Sussex died’. 

Events in the City  

Saturday 29 June 

Brighton & Hove Armed Forces Day celebrations @ Take Shelter  

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10am to 4pm, Saturday 29 June, Downs Junior School, Rugby Road, Brighton BN1 6ED 

Celebrate Armed Forces Day with a diverse range of activities taking place at Downs Junior School, the home of Take Shelter WW2 Museum. 

You can look forward to displays and demonstrations with the Army Cadet Force, displays of wartime dancing, tours of the air raid shelter and vintage vehicles. 

The event is free tand fully accessible. 

Learn more about the event on the Armed Forces Day website.  

Sunday 30 June 

Boar’s Head Memorial 

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10.45am, Sunday 30 June, Royal Sussex Regiment Memorial, Old Steine, Brighton  

An event commemorating the First World War Battle of the Boar’s Head in 1916 at Richebourg-l’Avoué in France. 

Brighton & Hove Bandstand Armed Forces Day concert  

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1pm to 3pm, Sunday 30 June, Brighton Beach Bandstand, Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2PQ  

Sit back and listen to a glorious afternoon of free music from the Burgess Hill Military Marching Youth Band to celebrate Armed Forces Day in Brighton & Hove 2024. 

They will present two half hour concerts of popular and military band music that raised morale and kept the residents of Sussex and Great Britain singing during the long hard years of the Second World War.  

There will be deck chairs available free of charge on a first come, first served basis and reserved seating for veterans, disabled and older people who wish to attend. 

The event is free, and no tickets are necessary. 

Learn more about the event on the Armed Forces Day website.  

Related councillors

Cllr Amanda Grimshaw BEM

Deputy Mayor
Armed Forces Champion of the City
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