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Battle of Britain memorial flight set to fly at Wales Airshow

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Three iconic World War Two aircraft will bring history to life at this summer’s Wales Airshow.

Flying in the skies above Swansea Bay on July 2 and 3, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will showcase three of just a handful of planes still in the air more than 70 years after their finest hours.

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The Avro Lancaster, just one of only two airworthy Lancaster bombers in the world, will delight aircraft enthusiasts as it flies in formation with the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane over the huge crowds lining the bay for the two-day event.

The free event run by Swansea Council has already announced that the RAF Red Arrows will feature in the line-up, on both days of the Wales Airshow.

Councillor Robert Francis Davies, Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration & Tourism, said: “The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is arguably the most historic and evocative flight display in British History.

“Without these planes, their pilots, crews, and the thousands of people working on the ground that supported our fighters and bombers defending Britain, our story would quite possibly have been very different.  

“To see them in flight, in the skies above Swansea Bay, really is to see living history and we are proud to be hosting them here in the city.

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“Combining with modern aircraft, exciting aerobatic displays and ground-based entertainment, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is among many spectacles that thousands of people will enjoy at Wales Airshow.”

Inaugurated on 11 July 1957 at Biggin Hill, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight aims to maintain the planes that defended Britain in the Second World War in an airworthy condition in order to commemorate those who have fallen in the service of our country.

There are now only two airworthy Lancaster bombers left in the world out of a total 7,377 that were built. The Lancaster PA474, which will fly at Wales Airshow, came off the production line at the Vickers Armstrong Broughton factory in Hawarden on 31 May 1945 and has not participated in any hostilities.

Critical in defeating the Luftwaffe air attacks during the Battle of Britain in 1940, the Supermarine Spitfire became a symbol of freedom during the war and has since gone on to be the most famous British fighter aircraft in history. There are six Spitfires in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s hanger, out of a total 20,341 aircraft that were built, more than any other British combat aircraft before or since World War Two.

The Hawker Hurricane, alongside the Spitfire, played a vital role defending Britain in frantic battles during the summer of 1940. Hurricanes destroyed more enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain than did all the other air and ground defences combined. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight maintains two of these amazing fighter planes: Hurricane LF363, believed to be the last Hurricane to enter service with the RAF; and Hurricane PZ865, the last Hurricane to be built out of a total 14,533 aircraft.

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Figures show the Wales Airshow regularly attracts 250,000 people and is estimated to be worth more than £9m to the local economy.

Councillor Francis-Davies added: “The councils is working on attracting many more exciting additions to the line-up in coming weeks – on the ground as well as in the air. There will be exciting displays, state-of-the-art military aircraft and vintage planes, as we’re looking to make the 2022 Wales Airshow better than ever!

(Lead image: Martin Bowman)

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Armed Forces

Swansea dignitaries mark Armed Forces Day

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The Lord Mayor of Swansea Cllr Mike Day and other local dignitaries honoured those who’ve served their country in the armed forces at a special ceremony at Swansea’s Guildhall Rotunda this morning.

Cllr Day along with the council’s Armed Forces Champion Cllr Wendy Lewis, HM the Lord Lieutenant Louise Fleet JP and the High Sheriff of West Glamorgan Stephen Rogers paid tribute to those who have served.

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Dignitaries at the Armed Forces Day event at Swansea’s Guildhall (Image: Swansea Council)

The tributes took place on the Guildhall Rotunda at 11am and also present were representatives from the armed forces, reservists, veterans and local cadet units.

The Lord Mayor said: “Armed Forces Day gives us the opportunity to celebrate our armed forces and give thanks for our serving personnel and those who have served in World Wars and other conflicts and to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to enjoy the freedom we have today.”

“Our Armed Forces deserve the respect and admiration of us all and we are immensely proud of them.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Armed Forces

Free swimming in Wales to continue for the Armed Forces

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On Armed Forces Day, the Welsh Government has announced the continuation of the Armed Forces Free Swimming scheme.

The scheme enables serving members of the Armed Forces and Veterans to swim for free at participating leisure centres and pools, using their Defence Privilege Card.

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The Armed Forces Free Swimming Scheme (AFFS) was first introduced in 2016 and represents the continued commitment to provide the Armed Forces community with access to services which meet their specific needs and recognise the service they have given to their country.

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden, said: “I’m very pleased that we are able to continue to support this scheme which is designed to ensure members of the Armed Forces past and present are able to benefit from the physical, and mental, health benefits swimming can offer.”

Deputy Minister for Social Partnerships, Hannah Blythyn, said: “We are committed to supporting our Armed Forces personnel and recognise how initiatives like this can boost their mental and physical wellbeing. I hope they can enjoy the benefits from this scheme over the next three years.”

Chris Llewelyn, WLGA Chief Executive said: “Local government is proud to deliver free swimming for our Armed Forces personnel and Veterans. We hope that even more people take part in the scheme in the coming year, taking advantage of the significant recuperative and social benefits physical activity offers. There are participating pools in each of Wales’ local authorities; to find out where your closet facility is, visit your local authority website.”

Throughout the 2021-22 financial year the scheme was taken up on average each quarter by 569 serving military personnel and veterans across Wales. The trend shows an increase in uptake as restrictions have been lifted, with the last quarter recording a peak of 879 people benefitting from 2641 visits to their local community swimming pools.

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To support the scheme, £45,000 to be issued every year over a three-year period; in 2022-23, 2023-24 and 2024-25.

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Armed Forces

Free breakfast for Armed Forces as Tesco recognise Armed Forces Day

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cooked food

Members of the Armed Forces will be able to get a free hot breakfast at Tesco cafés across Wales to mark the Armed Forces Day celebration in June.

As a thank you for their service, on Sunday June 26, all serving Armed Forces personnel, around 159,000 regulars and 32,000 reservists, can present their MOD90 identification card at any Tesco café and get a free full cooked breakfast, vegan cooked breakfast, sausage bap or a bacon bap.

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All 295 Tesco cafés across England, Scotland and Wales will be offering the promotion – limited to one free breakfast per cardholder.

Ashwin Prasad, Chief Product Officer at Tesco and Director Sponsor of the Armed Forces Network said: “We’re proud to be able to support National Armed Forces Day which celebrates the tremendous contribution that the armed forces make to our country. It’s an exciting opportunity for store colleagues across the country to celebrate. Everyone loves a free breakfast and we thought it was a gesture that showed how much we value members of the Armed Forces.”

Rhys Little, Chair of the Armed Forces Network at Tesco, said: “We’ve got a long history of getting behind those who have been in the forces. We’ve received the Gold award from the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme twice now (in 2016 and 2020), and we were also the first retailer to sign the Armed Forces Covenant in 2014. We also do our best to give anyone leaving the army, navy, or RAF a chance to forge a new career.”

Over the weekend of June 25 and 26, local events will be taking place in towns, cities, and villages up and down the country, and Tesco stores will be holding a nationwide collection for Help for Heroes.

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