UK & World News
Country Celebrates Troops On Armed Forces Day
Communities across the UK have shown support for servicemen and women as the country celebrates Armed Forces Day.
More than 100 events, ranging from veterans' parades and bands to barbecues and fairs, were held at the culmination of a week of tributes to British troops and their families.
The day is marked to raise awareness of the contribution made by the Army, Navy and RAF, and to allow the public to demonstrate their appreciation.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Today is an opportunity for everyone up and down the country to clearly show how grateful we are to all our brave servicemen and women for all that they do.
"It's also vitally important that we remember the sacrifices that the armed forces and their families make every day for the safety of our country."
Around 6,000 people turned out for an emotional part of the Olympic Torch relay at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Corporal Johnson Beharry, the most recent member of the armed forces to receive the Victoria Cross, carried the flame up to the Armed Forces Memorial.
An honour guard formed by members of the 2nd Mercian regiment lined the steps as he took the flame to the top and stood solemnly in honour of those who have died serving their country since the Second World War.
After completing his section of the relay, Corporal Beharry told Sky News: "Carrying the torch on Armed Forces Day is amazing. For me it's about raising the profile and raising more awareness for us about what we do and to be respected a lot more."
Among those who attended the event at the National Memorial Arboretum were Michael Hawkins, 71, and his wife Gill, 61, from Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. Mr Hawkins, who served in the RAF for 36 years, said: "I came here today because I thought it was very important on Armed Forces Day to do something that I consider significant, to come here to the National Arboretum, but in particular to see Johnson Beharry."
The fourth Armed Forces Day comes as military charities report a 26% increase in donations since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008.
Help for Heroes saw a 181% gain in income, while Support Our Soldiers, which sends care parcels to the frontline, saw an 87% increase, according to The Sun.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Plymouth, where there was a parade through the city by members of all three services, joined by military bands and veterans.
The parade finished on the Plymouth Hoe with a drumhead service, and entertainment continued throughout the day.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "Today I'm joining the rest of the country in saying thank you to our armed forces.
"We owe our servicemen and women a huge debt of gratitude for their dedication, resilience and sacrifices.
"For their incredible work, for putting their lives at risk so we can live in safety, for being prepared to leave their loved ones behind when they serve our country, from cooks, to medics, to volunteers, to troops on the front line in Afghanistan - every single contribution deserves recognition and celebration - as do those of our reservists, veterans and cadets."
Mr Clegg said the celebrations should "go some way to showing how grateful we are for the work of all our armed forces and how much we recognise their contribution".
"I also want to thank their families - who are parted from their loved ones for long periods of time, who live with uncertainty, and whose patience and bravery is recognised by us all."