The Face of Remembrance Day in Swindon 2015

Today was Remembrance Day in Swindon. I was there as usual and true to (my) form I have recorded some of the faces of Remembrance in Swindon. They are all locals and that includes Robert Buckland Conservative MP for Swindon South and Solicitor General for England and Wales. Along with Justin Tomlinson, Conservative MP for Swindon North and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People.

I had a number of interesting discussions some of which centred around the fact that quite a few of the RBL standard bearers are getting older and wont be able to carry them for much longer there are not many younger people joining and willing to carry the standard at all of these type of events. Despite there being a very large contingent of Army, Army Reservists, Cadets from all three branches of the services not many of them are joining the RBL.

After saying that I am sure this event will continue for many years to come.

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VJ Day Service at the Cenotaph in Swindon Town Centre

Saturday 15th there was a small service held at the Cenotaph in Swindon Town Centre to commemorate VJ Day or the ending of the war in Asia 70 years ago.

Swindon Remembers

The weather was perfect this morning for the 2014 Remembrance Service held in Swindon Town Centre at the Cenotaph. There was probably 2000 people attending. Amongst those were Robert Buckland MP South Swindon and Solicitor General, Justin Tomlinson MP Swindon North, Councillor Teresa Page Mayor of Swindon and David Renard leader of Swindon Council.

Friday at Fairford my day at RIAT

Well, Friday was spent at the first day of Fairford RIAT 2014. Despite it being a cloudy day I still managed to get sunburnt and the clouds were high enough to not affect any of the flying displays. It was a nice day but exhausting and was pretty tired by the end of the day. The Red Arrows of course were the star attraction of the day as the F-35 was cancelled due to engine problems back in the USA. I managed to take 600 images so this is a very very very small selection of the day.

And as I understand it the good people of Swindon got a really good view of the Red Arrows as they flew over a couple of times, nice.

Coolist guys on the planet at RAF Fairford

Today I met two of the coolist guys on the planet, well apart from me of course. Let me explain.

I was invited to the Lockheed Martin unveiling/briefing of the new F-16 and F-35 fighter jets. The F-35 has never flown in the UK yet and will do so for the first time at Fairford RIAT this weekend. I got to fly the simulators for both aircraft and was surprised just how easy it was, well compared to flying Chipmunks which is what I did 30 years ago!! It is all computerized now and it was a real pleasure and fun to fly them, especially the F-35. I even got to fly it in the VTOL mode which was pretty cool. But the best bit was meeting the test pilots. They were so interesting to talk and listen to. These guys had thousands of hours flying experience each and were just so cool. A F-35 cost $42M and they talk about flying them as you and I drive our car. They were really enthusiastic and clearly loved their job, well who wouldnt???

After today I am really looking forward to attending RIAT on Friday, great stuff.

Simon Weston and Mike Penning at Swindon Disability Conference

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing Simon Weston Falklands War Veteran and disability campaigner. Along with Mike Penning Minister of State for Disabled People at the Swindon SEQOL Disability Confident Conference held at the Steam Museum. Both really nice guys to talk to, in fact everybody there was a pleasure to work with and talk to.

The Face of Remembrance in Swindon

Nothing to say on this really other than that the Remembrance Parade, Service, Ceremony here in Swindon is still as strong as ever after a large turn out of both those who took part in the parade and the public who came to support. The weather was perfect, a bright sunny November day.

Royal Wootton Bassett Field of Remembrance Opening Ceremony

Crowds gathered in the pouring rain to remember the brave servicemen and women who fought and died in the Afghanistan conflict at a service at The Royal British Legion’s Field of Remembrance at Royal Wootton Bassett today.

Some 46,000 crosses have been planted within the walled garden in Lydiard Park in Remembrance to the 446 Service people that have been killed since the start of the conflict in 2001. A number of civic dignitaries, guests, members of the Armed Forces and school children planted crosses during the service.

For me the most poignant of all was young Emma Hickman and her baby daughter. Emma was the fiancee of Private Daniel Wade who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012.

Repatriation at Brize Norton of Two Scottish Soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Yesterday I attended the Repatriation of Cpl William Savage and Fusilier Samuel Flint of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland at Brize Norton. The soldiers were two of the three who were killed by a road side bomb in Afghanistan on the 30th April.

Despite absolutely awful weather of driving rain and 50mph winds hundreds turned out to send them on their way.

Particularly sad was watching the 27 year old wife of Cpl William Savage who is expecting their son shortly.

What was also interesting for me was I hooked up with the other photographers there from Getty, Reuters, AFP etc and had some very interesting discussions about the state of the industry!!!

Back to the repatriation though, I believe that even if you dont support what is happening in Afghanistan etc if the opportunity arrises you should try to go to at least one repatriation service. It is an experience. For me despite going to pretty much all of them and having published a successful book of images and poems about them in Wootton Bassett I still really feel for the families of those that have fallen.

Swindon, how it marks the Funeral of Margaret Thatcher a piece of history.

So, this is how Swindon marks a historic event. I for one am very disappointed in the fact that there was nowhere in the Town Centre to watch the funeral of Margaret Thatcher. Now this is absolutely nothing to do with any political leanings I may or may not hold, it is about an event in history and as you can see by these two photos taken shortly after ten o’ clock this morning. Which is when the funeral was taking place in London.
The Big Screen was not showing the news as it usually does and only had an advert on it for an art event that was not due to start till 11.30 so in my mind they could have shown the funeral on the big screen. Now those of you who follow my twitter will have noticed that I did question inSwindon about it and there only response (both on Twitter and by phone) was oh it wasnt planned to show it!!!!!
I also took the time to talk to several people in Wharf Green and they like me would like to have watched the funeral on the Big Screen and were as equally disappointed as I am.

As someone who likes and supports Swindon I just feel a little let down by the town on this occasion.

What do other people think?????