BOROUGH SET TO HOST ARMED FORCES DAY 2025

PLANS are in the pipeline for the borough to host Northern Ireland Armed Forces Day in 2025 marking the 17th year of the celebrations.

Councillors agreed to ‘accept the honour’ to host the main Armed Forces Day celebration as part of the Sea Bangor maritime festival on June 21 with Newtownards hosting a musical event on June 20.

Armed Forces Day allows people to come together in recognition and celebration of the service of both regular and reservist soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, past and present, and the families that have supported them.

Ards and North Down Council last hosted Armed Forces Day in 2017, with a total event cost of £138,000 including £118,000 allocated from the tourism budget and £10,000 from each of Tourism NI and the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association.

At a recent Place and Prosperity Committee meeting, council officers were tasked with liaising with the RFCA to confirm the programme opportunities and ‘budget accordingly’ in the run up to the estimates process for the 2025/26 financial year.

A report presented to the committee outlined this combined event would be celebrated in both Bangor and Newtownards with a musical performance by a military or silver band at Conway Square on the Friday evening, followed by a civic reception in the town hall.

It went on to say the main Armed Forces Day would be hosted at Sea Bangor, the McKee Clock Arena and along Bangor’s Waterfront on the Saturday which would include a military parade from the City Hall to Bangor Marina.

A drumhead service would be held at McKee Clock area with musical performances throughout the afternoon to include military bands as well as a variety of sports and capability demonstrations such as working dogs.

The report also proposed that along the Eisenhower Pier, Bangor Waterfront and Quay Street car park, there could be a Royal Navy ship, a parachute display team on water or land, a flypast, a military village, a military equipment display and family entertainment.

The event would conclude on Sunday, June 22, with a varied musical programme at McKee Clock area, on-water family focussed activity and entertainment at the pier and the car park.

Mayor Jennifer Gilmour proposed the recommendation saying it was ‘important to recognise the role the armed forces play’ with the council bestowing its highest honour, the Freedom of the Borough, on the Irish Guards in 2022.

Given the borough’s rich military roots, with Palace and Kinnegar Barracks, she described the council’s decision to host the Armed Forces Day celebration as a ‘natural fit’.

Alderman Robert Adair said to have the opportunity to host Armed Forces Day for the whole of Northern Ireland will be special moment with people coming together to say thank you to the armed forces ‘for keeping us safe.”