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Fareham remembers Falklands fallen

By Connor Steel

HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE came together in Fareham Town Centre this weekend in remembrance and tribute as the town’s community marked the fortieth anniversary of the Falklands Conflict with a special morning of events; which also saw HMS Collingwood awarded freedom of the Borough as they exercised the privilege of marching through the town with drums, colours, and bayonets.

Accompanied by the HM Royal Marines and the ship’s company of HMS Collingwood, a march from the Civil Offices set off at 10:45 led by a band; arriving in West Street at approximately 11am. New Fareham Mayor Councillor Michael Ford JP then inspected the guard, band, and colour party, whilst the deputy Mayor then inspected the front rank officers and senior ratings under warm sunshine.

Once conducted the Commanding Officer on behalf of HMS Collingwood, Captain Jordan, inspected the junior ratings alongside the Falklands veterans who attended the ceremony; before an arms drill was held including a brief moment of remembrance to the 255 fallen British personnel who died in the three month conflict between April 2 and June 14, 1982, responding to an Argentinian invasion.

Formal speeches then started including one by Derek Kimber, a veteran chief petty officer on board HMS Coventry; which was sunk by Argentine Air Force A-4 Skyhawks on May 25, 1982. He addressed the crowds by saying: “It is good that friends and neighbours remember us and our lost brothers, particularly as the world seems to turn at such a pace now. ‘Thank you Fareham residents for your attendance.”.

Councillor Sean Woodward further addressed the event in his role as the Executive Leader of Fareham Borough Council with a short but poignant speech saying: “Much has been written about the Falklands war, and much more will be written. We are here to remember because people in Fareham were affected by this conflict. I’m proud that in Fareham, and elsewhere, we pause to remember and honour those men and their families who paid the ultimate sacrifice. It is right that we do.”

As the event reached its conclusion hymns from singer Carley Williams were performed with accompanies from the band, whilst Bible passages and prayers were also read out to the crowd. And in the final act dignitaries unveiled a brand new memorial plaque at the Falklands Arch, located near to Poundland and Subway, alongside the addition of 40 pale maiden flowers fixed to the existing structure.

The plant is the official and national flower of the Falkland Islands, with each one representing a year since the conflict. It was a moment that was met with silence from many, with Councillor Woodward saying the flowers were a “poignant addition” to the arch which was opened by former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in May 2007 for the twenty-five year anniversary.

Fareham Mayor Michael Ford JP, in only his third day in the role, gave a short statement after the event had finished on Saturday saying: “It is a fabulous occasion, how we have been able to commemorate it today. It has been an absolute delight and I hope we have commemorated it appropriately”.

PICTURED BY KEITH WOODLAND: Derek Kimber, the Mayor of Fareham, Mike Ford and other Falkland veterans under Falklands Arch during the ceremony on Saturday (May 14).