THIS week Bradford will mark Armed Forces Week in a very different way due to lockdown restrictions.

Usually the District marks Armed Forces Day with a Drumhead service in the city centre and family events in City Park.

Armed Forces Week begins today and, like many events, had to be re-thought due to the pandemic.

Today a flag raising ceremony will now take place online and will be broadcast over Bradford Council’s social media platforms 3pm.

The ceremony will open with a speech from the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Doreen Lee, and the short service will be led by Canon Paul Maybury, Canon Precentor at Bradford Cathedral.

The Armed Forces Day flag along with flags from the Army, Navy and RAF will fly in Centenary Square throughout the week.

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The flag raising ceremony usually includes representatives of the armed forces including a presence from the local branches of the Royal British Legion, however this year due to the restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather and to protect those shielding from this deadly virus the event has been moved online.

To mark the end of Armed Forces Week and Armed Forces Day on June 27 the annual Drumhead Service will now also take place online.

The service will be led by the Lord Mayor’s Chaplain, Reverend Dr Jonathan Pritchard, with contributions from the Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Mr Ed Anderson; Lord Mayor of Bradford, and Canon Paul Maybury. Royal British Legion standard bearers Martin Fearnley from the Central Branch and Paul Lister from the Bradford Group, together with Paul’s five year old daughter Lola, will also feature in the online service.

This year’s Drumhead Service will be broadcast across Bradford Council’s social media platforms at 11am on Saturday.

City Hall Clock Tower and other buildings in the city centre will be lit up in red, white and blue on the evening of Saturday to mark Armed Forces Day and in honour of all our armed forces personnel.

To help people to celebrate Armed Forces Week at home Bradford Council has put together a page on their website with information and links to activities for people to join in with.

One of the activities people are invited to join in with is a national online ‘Salute our Forces’.

To take part, people are being invited to take a photo or video saluting our forces and post it on social media using #SaluteOurForces.

The Armed Forces Day website has videos to help people to perfect their salute.

As part of Armed Forces Week, Wednesday is Reserves Day and is dedicated to all those men and women who make up the Reserve Forces. Reservists give up their spare time to serve, balancing their civilian life with a military career so they would be ready to serve as part of the military when needed.

Usually on the Friday of Armed Forces Week the Council holds a special lunch at City Hall for veterans and invited guests, however due to the coronavirus pandemic this has been cancelled and will not take place this year.

Members of the Armed Forces have been aiding communities in the Bradford district with the response to the coronavirus pandemic by helping to deliver food parcels and assisting with logistical planning.

Councillor Joanne Dodds, Bradford Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “Bradford district is rightly proud of its strong relationship with our Armed Forces and although events will be taking place online this year, we will still be able to demonstrate out thanks for all that they do for us.

“We may not be able to celebrate together in our usual way but we can still show our continued support and appreciation for all those men and women, from across all our communities, who make up the Armed Forces community: from currently serving troops to Service families, veterans, reservists and cadets.

“We are encouraging people to join in online by watching the flag raising ceremony and the Drumhead Service and having a go at some of the suggested activities especially joining in the #SaluteOurForces photos.”

Leader of Bradford Council, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “Although this year we won’t be able to attend the flag raising ceremony in Centenary Square and Armed Forces Week events like we have in previous years, we will be able to take part online and this means that more people will be able to join in and show support an appreciation for our Armed Forces.”

Bradford Council’s Chief Executive, Kersten England, said: “I am proud of the work that our reservists who work for Bradford Council do and the sacrifices they make. This Armed Forces Week and especially on Reserves Day I’d like to extend my gratitude and thanks to them.”

Former Royal Air Force Serviceman, Naz Hussain, who works with local BAME ex-service personnel, said: "This week is about celebrating the contribution of all men and women who have served. Many people are surprised to learn about the contribution to the Armed Forces from across all our communities – including our BAME communities and those from the Commonwealth. I continue to work with communities across Bradford to raise awareness of this continuing contribution, to encourage people from all backgrounds to be proud of their service and to encourage current and former servicemen and women to share their stories."

For more information visit Bradford Council’s website and search Armed Forces Week.