Banbridge puts on ‘fantastic’ show as it hosts first Northern ireland Armed Forces Day in the County Down town

Banbridge enjoyed a “fantastic” historic first on Saturday as it hosted well over 10,000 people at its Armed Forces Day.

By Philip Bradfield
Monday, 20th June 2022, 1:57 pm
Updated Monday, 20th June 2022, 2:17 pm

The highlight of the day was probably the incredible aerial display over the town by the RAF’s Red Arrows display team, starting at noon, which wowed much of Co Down as they roared across the country to mark the occasion.

Ulster Unionist Alderman Glenn Barr, who was the initial driving force in bringing the event to the town, said it had long been in his mind to do so.

He said they closed the gate of the main venue, Banbridge Rugby Club, after 9,500 people had entered, but that there still thousands of others in the town who were trying to get in.

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Armed Forces day takes place in Banbridge on Saturday. A Drumhead Service was held at Banbridge War Memorial to mark the event. Lord-Lieutenant for County Down gathered with Armed Forces representatives, politicians, local clergy and a council delegation to honour Northern Ireland's Armed Forces community. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

At that point they had to implement a one-out-one-in policy, he said.

“Saturday was in the planning for a long time and for the council to host Armed Forces Day (AFD) has been an ambition of mine even longer,” he told the News Letter.

“I am so proud to have delivered this event for the people of Banbridge and the Armagh Banbridge Craigavon Council.

“To have the Red Arrows fly over Banbridge with a stream of red, white and blue flowing behind was an unbelievable sight.

The Red Arrows during Armed Forces day in Banbridge on Saturday. A Drumhead Service was held at Banbridge War Memorial to mark the event. Lord-Lieutenant for County Down gathered with Armed Forces representatives, politicians, local clergy and a council delegation to honour Northern Ireland's Armed Forces community. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

“The streets of Banbridge were packed on Saturday for the parade and indeed the entertainment at the rugby club is a testament to the support for Her Majesty’s Forces and Veterans.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in making this a special and the best Armed Forces Day.”

The programme also featured the world famous Red Hot Chilli Pipers, thrilling aerial action by the RLC Silver Stars parachute display team, music by Jack Devlin Band and The Soda Popz 50s/60s band supported by Ballroom Blitz NI.

The day got under way with a Drumhead Service at Banbridge War Memorial, Newry Street at 10.30am followed by a parade of 500 serving personnel, veterans and cadets and accompanying bands who then marched to Banbridge Rugby Club, the main venue for the day.

Armed Forces day takes place in Banbridge on Saturday. A Drumhead Service was held at Banbridge War Memorial to mark the event. Lord-Lieutenant for County Down gathered with Armed Forces representatives, politicians, local clergy and a council delegation to honour Northern Ireland's Armed Forces community. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Armed Forces day takes place in Banbridge on Saturday. A Drumhead Service was held at Banbridge War Memorial to mark the event. Lord-Lieutenant for County Down gathered with Armed Forces representatives, politicians, local clergy and a council delegation to honour Northern Irelandâ€TMs Armed Forces community. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker