Celebrating Armed Forces Day in Lockdown

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Wigan Borough’s annual Armed Forces Day celebrations will still go ahead this year, in line with government guidance to minimise the spread of the coronavirus.

Due to current social restriction measures, Wigan Council has amended the usual format and will instead mark the day with a week of online activity and a low-key convoy.

On Monday 22 June, the Union Jack flags on Wigan and Leigh town halls and the Armed Forces Day flag on Believe Square, were raised for one week.

Families and residents are encouraged to follow the council’s social media pages to take part in Armed Forces Day related activities including; learning how to salute, writing letters to local veterans and learning about different types of military vehicles.

On Saturday 27 June, there will be a small convoy in both Wigan and Leigh. The route and times of the convoy will not be shared to avoid gatherings forming, however, sections will be live-streamed on the council’s social channels.

Leader of Wigan Council, Coun David Molyneux said: “Armed Forces Day is always a fantastic day in the event calendar. People line the streets to show support for our armed forces community and enjoy the range of activities and stalls that fill our town centre.

“We are disappointed that our usual plans are unable to go ahead due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, but following the success of our virtual and socially distanced VE Day activities earlier this year, we’re confident that residents will still make the most of the day.

“Public safety is our main priority and although we couldn’t let the day pass without acknowledging the sacrifice of our armed forces community, we will not share the exact route or timings of the convoy as we cannot risk residents standing in large groups.

“We encourage residents in Wigan and Leigh to keep their eyes peeled throughout the day and to take photographs from their front doors and driveways if the convoy passes their homes. We also welcome motorists to show their support if they pass the convoy on the road.”

Organised by Wigan Council, the annual event tends to attract more than 20,000 people to the borough and was due to take place in Leigh town centre on Saturday 27 June.

Throughout the week leading up to the day, Wigan Borough’s Armed Forces HQ will also encourage families to hide decorated rocks around the borough and share their location on social media with the hashtag #RemembranceRocks The idea is so other families can then find the rocks and re-hide them.

Laura Ingham, managing director of the HQ said: “We are inspired by the resilience and passion of the armed forces community in Wigan Borough throughout the pandemic by keeping celebrations alive in a virtual way. Although we can’t be together this year, we will meet again.”