Armed Forces get ready for friendly invasion of town

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A parade through Newtownards will begin the Armed Forces Day celebrations in the Co Down town tomorrow morning.

Regular service personnel, military reservists and cadet forces will all be involved in the ‘friendly invasion’, as well as many other attractions of interest to military enthusiasts.

The free event gets under way at 11am when the parade passes through the town centre followed by a 12 noon drumhead service in the main arena at Newtownards airfield.

A packed programme of events includes a military fitness challenge and tug of war at 12.30, and a sea cadets drill and corps of drums display at 1pm.

Other main attractions include the Military Wives Choir performing at 1.30pm and the bands of both the Royal Marines and Royal Irish Regiment from 3pm.

The event has been organised as part of nationwide celebrations to mark the contribution made to local communities by servicemen and women past and present. It runs between 11am and 6pm.

Static displays include War Years Remembered, the Irish Great War Society and a vintage military vehicle display – including a replica Blair Mayne SAS jeep and an Ulster Aviation Society Spitfire.

One of the most anticipated items is the air display from 2pm involving a Bucker Jungmann, a Catalina and a Jet Provost.

A preview event is also taking place at Donaghadee Harbour between 6pm and 8pm tonight – involving the visit of HMS Pursuer, a flypast by a Catalina and a Yak 52 and a mock assault on the pier by the Royal Marine Reserves.

The programme ends with a performance by the Band of the Royal Marines.