Town's military festival is a triumph

By Ted JeoryTROOPS have fired the first shots in the battle to stage the region's biggest military festival.Colchester's historic garrison hosted its first annual Colchester Military Festival on Saturday in an attempt to give residents an insight into army skills, as well as raising money for charity.

By Ted Jeory

TROOPS have fired the first shots in the battle to stage the region's biggest military festival.

Colchester's historic garrison hosted its first annual Colchester Military Festival on Saturday in an attempt to give residents an insight into army skills, as well as raising money for charity.

The show on Abbey Fields featured displays from military units based in Colchester, as well as the Royal Engineers from Wimbish, near Saffron Walden, and Army Air Corps personnel from Wattisham Airfield, near Stowmarket.


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At one stage, soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment looked as though they were trying to sabotage the whole event - but it turned out they were just staging a full re-enactment of a modern air assault formation in a mock capture of the main arena.

Other attractions included the famous Red Devils parachute display team, the Blue Falcons gymnastic display team, military bands and historic vehicles.

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Brigadier Jacko Page and Colchester Garrison commander, Col Tony Barton, were also there to take the salute, along with special guest, former journalist and MP, Martin Bell.

The festival has replaced the Garrison Country Day, which has been held on Fingringhoe Ranges for the past 18 years.

When the Army became involved with the Colchester 2020 vision for the town's future, it was decided to upgrade the event and try to make it the biggest military show in the East of England.

Proceeds raised from the day went to the Army Benevolent Fund, the Mayor's Charitable Fund and the Garrison Welfare Fund.

A delegation from the Royal British Legion in Essex was also at the show, promoting its campaign to raise public awareness of what the Poppy Appeal money is spent on.

Essex is one of the 10 counties chosen across the UK to take part in the pilot project, which highlights the legion's welfare work with ex-servicemen and women, their families and their dependants.

The Royal British Legion was also explaining to show visitors that they did not have to be an ex-serviceman or woman to join the charity as a member.

David Kliber, spokesman for Royal British Legion Essex said: "It's fantastic to be part of such a successful military event. Hopefully, we've been able to tell the people of Colchester what the Legion in the Community scheme is about and how it would benefit them."

ted.jeory@eadt.co.uk

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