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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Tameside Stands with Our Armed Forces

Friday, 03 July 2020

Around this point in the summer would be the time where we would be enjoying some of the biggest annual cultural events on Tameside’s calendar. Unfortunately the ongoing struggle against coronavirus means that the vast majority of public outdoor gatherings have had to be postponed to contain the spread of the pandemic. While these precautions have been absolutely necessary, thanks to the hard work and creativity of our residents and communities we’ve been able to channel the spirit of many of these events in a different way.

Last month saw people take part in a virtual Tour of Tameside to raise money for the Running Bee Foundation, which fund events across the North West to promote health and wellbeing as well as the fight against child obesity. Participants completed the four stages of the Tour in their own time in a setting of their choosing, paying strict attention to social distancing guidelines throughout. While I hope that the Tour can return to its usual format next year, I think it’s fair to say that 2020’s virtual edition will be remembered fondly by many.

The same has been true with Armed Forces Day, our yearly celebration of the brave men and women who have defended our country throughout history and up to the present day. In 2020, this also includes the armed forces personnel that have been involved in the response to coronavirus, from helping to build the Nightingale Hospital in Manchester to delivering essential supplies to vulnerable residents Since our usual all day family entertainment in Victoria Park in Denton was no longer an option, we encouraged people to turn to the internet to get involved and show their support. Using the tagline #SaluteOurForces, the entire country paid tribute to the armed forces by sending photos and videos of themselves, their friends and their colleagues saluting on social media. The Armed Forces Day website even provided handy guides on how to make sure you’re saluting properly.

For Tameside, this Armed Forces Day gave us particular cause for celebration as we found out that local veteran James Kirk, who recently turned 100, will join the very select list of foreigners awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the French equivalent of the Victoria or George Cross. A veteran of the Second World War, his journey after volunteering for the Royal Navy in 1941 took him from the coast of Kenya to the beaches of D-Day. Tameside Council and the Tameside Armed Service Community are currently arranging for the medal to be formally presented to him by the French Consul when it is safe to do so.

However, as I’ve said before, while we offer our full support to Armed Forces Day we are ultimately judged by how we treat our armed forces personnel and veterans for the other 364 days of the year. Since 2012 Tameside Council has been a proud signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant, which commits us to making sure that none of the 7,500 armed forces veterans in the borough lose out when it comes to accessing public services. It is a promise that we have lived up to. To give you just one example of what this means in practice, I’m proud of the fact that we have no armed forces veterans on the social housing list or in emergency or temporary accommodation, and we haven’t for quite some time. We have also received the “Gold Award” from the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, the highest possible accolade for organisations which align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant.

My thanks go out to everybody that took part in the Armed Forces Day celebrations. You’ve proven that, even in the midst of this terrible coronavirus, Tameside’s community spirit has not wavered. I pledge that we will continue working to make Tameside the best place in Britain for looking after armed forces veterans and their families, on Armed Forces Day and every day after that.

Posted by: Executive Leader

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