Armed Forces Day: 1,000 join Cardiff parade

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Media captionThe parade began and ended at Cardiff Castle

Nearly 1,000 service personnel and veterans have been marching through Cardiff to celebrate Armed Forces Day.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said it reflected the "immense debt of gratitude" owed to the military.

He joined the commemorations and celebrations that began with the parade from Cardiff Castle.

It coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic, World War II's longest continuous military campaign.

"I believe strongly that we should commemorate past conflicts and the people who made sacrifices for our safety," said the First Minister.

"It is important that future generations are aware of this history and remember those who fought for us, and those who continue to fight for us, so that we can continue to enjoy the things we so often take for granted today."

Event organiser Dave Morris said: "The South Wales Armed Forces Day in Cardiff has become an important annual event which has grown both in armed forces', veterans' and their families' involvement and the support and attendance of the general public.

"I would like to thank everyone who has helped made it possible. The spectacular displays and activities make the day a fantastic family day out."

Image caption Lance Corporal Ian Lane presented Thea Davies with the flag for her to carry to Cardiff Castle

The celebrations attended by the chiefs of the army, navy and air force in Wales are seen as a way of recognising the contributions made by members of services and their families.

This year's south Wales event will also mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic, with the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy Association taking a prominent position in the head service in Coopers Field and parade

The day of free events will also feature military displays and musical performances, a parachute display by the RAF Falcons team and a fly-past over Cooper's Field by an RAF Sea King Helicopter.

A similar event was held in north Wales last weekend at Deeside College in Connah's Quay.

The National Armed Forces Day is taking place in Nottingham.

Resettlement help

Image caption The parade set off from Cardiff Castle

On Monday Thea Davies, the partner of Capt Stephen Healey, an Army officer from Cardiff killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan last year, helped carry the Armed Forces Day flag before it was raised at Cardiff Castle.

Torfaen council held a flag-raising ceremony at the civic centre in Pontypool, as did Wrexham council at the town's Guildhall.

Meanwhile Housing Minister Carl Sergeant said the Welsh government recognised the vital importance that the armed forces personnel have in serving their country, announcing £2m extra funding to help them resettle after leaving the services.

He said: "Having spoken with several members of the armed forces, veterans and their families it is clear that many have difficulty in finding suitable and affordable accommodation and housing advice. This allocation will make a contribution towards assistance with this.

"We are considering a number of funding options including targeting support for personnel who have been subject to the latest round of redundancies."

Phil Jones, Wales area manager for the Royal British Legion, welcomed news of the extra funding.

"A high proportion of the welfare need of the armed forces community in Wales is based around housing, and the Welsh government is to be commended for this decisive action," he said.

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