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Armed Forces

Gower MP calls for views of local service personnel, veterans and their families on Armed Forces Bill

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Tonia Antoniazzi, Member of Parliament for Gower and currently a member of the Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill, has called for service families, personnel, and veterans in Gower, as well as civilians subject to service law, to share their views on the government’s forthcoming Armed Forces Bill.

The Armed Forces Bill Select Committee has issued a survey seeking views on the forthcoming Bill to inform the Committee’s inquiry, with responses to the survey potentially included in the Committee’s report.

Among other things, the Bill proposes a legal responsibility for public bodies to give ‘due regard’ to the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant when accessing public services such as housing, healthcare and education.

Labour has criticised the Bill for being too weak, and say proposals would do little to correct the many ways in which service personnel are disadvantaged.

They also want civilian courts to have jurisdiction in matters of murder, rape and serious sexual offences committed in the UK in-line with recommendations made in the recent Lyons report.

The Member of Parliament for Gower, Tonia Antoniazzi, said: “This survey is an important opportunity for service personnel, veterans and their families in Gower to have their say on what they think the government should be doing with this Bill to improve the welfare of those involved and connected to our Armed Services.

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“Having been involved with scrutinising the bill, I know that there are large areas for improvement and I really encourage people in Gower to get their voices heard and claim their stake in it by responding to this survey.”

The deadline for responses to the survey is Monday 5 April 5 PM and takes roughly five minutes to complete. Complete the survey here.

(Lead image: Army / MoD)

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Armed Forces

Wales and the Battle of Britain Exhibition to visit Port Talbot

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An exhibition telling the story of Wales’s contribution in the largest air battle ever recorded is coming to Port Talbot this autumn.

The Wales and the Battle of Britain Touring Exhibition was created by the RAF’s Air Historical Branch (Dr Lynsey Shaw) together with Air Commodore Adrian Williams, Air Officer Wales, and his team, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Unfortunately due to COVID the planned tour could not take place at the time. When restrictions eased it was felt that the story of the Battle of Britain told from a Welsh perspective was so important the tour would still go ahead, albeit 2 years after the 80th anniversary.

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The exhibition is touring Wales and it will be at Aberafan Shopping Centre from Monday 5 to Sunday 11 September 2022. Admission is free.

Air Commodore Adrian Williams said: “I’m delighted that, following on from the official opening of the Wales and the Battle of Britain 80th Anniversary Exhibition in Cardiff, the exhibition is now touring Wales and will be hosted at Neath Port Talbot.

“The Battle of Britain, the largest air battle ever recorded, was one of the most pivotal and iconic moments in the history of this country. It marked a turning point of the Second World War when Britain stood alone against Hitler’s seemingly unstoppable military power. The exhibition tells a story that will enable Welsh people, of all ages, to come along and find out more about what happened in the skies and on the ground during wartime. It exceptionally details the Welsh aircrew who fought, telling their stories and heroism to a modern Welsh audience.

“By visiting the exhibition individuals will also have the opportunity to pay their respects to the ‘Welsh Fallen’ and to those who eventually returned home to their loved ones and to celebrate the many different ways the Welsh people and their communities’ contributed to the War effort during the Battle of Britain.”

Councillors Wyndham Griffiths and Chris James, both Armed Forces Veterans, are the Armed Forces Champions for Neath Port Talbot Council.

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Councillor Griffiths said: “I am very proud that Neath Port Talbot is to play host to this important exhibition. It will be a chance for people to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Britain, honour those who gave their lives and learn about the part that people and communities across Wales played in this historic event.”

Councillor Chris James added: “Neath Port Talbot has a strong contingent of serving, reserve and veteran members of the Armed Forces and a proud tradition of supporting them through our Armed Forces Covenant. Events such as this help to ensure that we never forget the fallen and veterans from the two World Wars and other global conflicts, or those currently serving for the ongoing contribution they make.”

Featuring a series of large, prepared panels and a number of artefacts, the exhibition will include photographs and narrative to tell, for the first time, the story of how Wales featured in the Battle of Britain and what happened in the skies and on the ground during wartime.

Chris Morgan MBE, Aberafan Shopping Centre Manager and also an ex-serviceman added: “We at Aberafan Shopping Centre are pleased to have been chosen as the venue for this exhibition and are proud to help commemorate those who served in the Battle of Britain and honour our Armed Forces Community.”

The Mayor of Neath Port Talbot Councillor Robert Wood will be joined by military representatives to officially open the exhibition at 2pm on Monday 5 September.

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(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Armed Forces

Top honour for Swansea’s Merchant Navy Association

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Swansea’s Merchant Navy Association has been awarded the Freedom of the city

Full Council on July 22 awarded the Swansea branch of the association the city’s highest honour as a mark of respect for the sacrifices made by merchant seamen during World War II and in other conflicts.

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Wendy Lewis, the council’s Armed Forces Champion, said the honour was richly-deserved and would help commemorate the role of the Merchant Navy in a maritime community.

Cllr Lewis said: “The Merchant Navy Association in Swansea was founded in 1998, initially to raise funds for a permanent memorial to those locally who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II.

“The memorial located in SA1 is a special place of pilgrimage for the families of those who gave their lives. It’s only right that more than 75 years after the end of World War II that the local branch of the MNA be given the honour.”

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council said: “Full Council agreed to award Swansea’s highest civic honour to the Merchant Navy Association last year. So it’s great that after the pandemic we were able to invite its members to the Council Chamber to receive the award.

“It’s perhaps easy to forget that 90% of the UK’s imports, including half the food we eat, arrives by sea. We owe British seafarers a debt of gratitude for their contribution in times of conflict and in times of peace.”

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Lord Mayor, Cllr Mike Day said: “The Merchant Navy Association continues to make a valuable contribution to the life of our city and, now that it’s safe to do so, I was looking forward to chairing this ceremonial meeting of the council to recognise its work.

“Like others in the Council, we have relatives who have served and are serving in the Merchant Navy, making this a very personal event as well as an honour bestowed by the whole city.”

Among those to have received the Freedom of the City in the past have been HMS Scott, HMS Scott, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards and 157 (Welsh) Regiment of the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC). Rugby legend Alun Wyn Jones and Oscar-winning actress Catherine Zeta Jones have also received the award.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Council reaffirms armed forces community commitment

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Carmarthenshire Council’s Armed Forces Champion Cllr Phillip Hughes has pledged the council’s ongoing support by signing the Armed Forces Covenant alongside Lieutenant Commander Andrew Davies RN at a special ceremony at Parc y Scarlets.

The Covenant focusses on helping members of the armed forces community have the same access to government and commercial services and products as any other citizen. It supports serving personnel, service leavers, veterans, reservists and their families.

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The armed forces community represents approximately 12% of the population which is around 23,000 people in Carmarthenshire.

The council signed the ‘Community Covenant’ with a range of other public and third sector partners in 2013.

Cllr Hughes said: “Signing the Covenant shows the council’s support to the armed forces community, and how much we value the contribution and sacrifices they have made, as well as the important role they play in our communities.

“We are committed to making sure the armed forces and their families are treated with fairness and respect in all areas of their life.”

The signing of the Covenant was part of a jobs fair organised by the council specifically for the armed forces community and included a range of over 40 employers showcasing their employment opportunities.

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Cllr Hughes added: “This was an excellent event, it was fantastic to see so many local organisations looking to benefit from recruiting highly skilled, reliable, and adaptable members of the armed forces community, and promoting opportunities for them to re-train and build upon the skills and experience they have gained through their career with the armed forces.”

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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