Today was Armed Forces Day in Hexham, and saw the town turn out in force to thank our brave troops. Soldiers from 39 Royal Artillery exercised the Freedom of the Town of Hexham which was awarded to them by the Town Council last year. The troops marched through the town wearing the multi-terrain pattern uniforms which signifies the constant presence that the soldiers have had in Afghanistan.
There was a great turn out, but the event was tinged with sadness, of course, as we heard this week that the 39 Regiment is one of the regiments to be withdrawn after the end of the Afghan war, with the soldiers spread among other Royal Artillery units.Last Thursday I met with Nick Harvey MP, The Minister of State for the Armed Forces, to discuss the impact of the changes to the Army and have been been given two important assurances. Firstly the men in the 39th will be at no greater risk of redundancy than anyone else. Secondly the changes will not happen immediately but in 2015.
Today the focus was on thanking every single one of those brave soldiers for the role they have played in Afghanistan and keeping us safe.