This weekend we will pause to remember those who have given their lives serving our country in the armed forces.
The Remembrance period has its origins commemorating those who died in the First and Second World Wars of the last century. While it is right that we remember those who fought and fell in these conflicts, which were vital for our security and our freedom, the Poppy Appeal of today, alongside the year-round work of the Royal British Legion, is raising awareness of a new generation of veterans and service personnel who deserve our support.
The Royal British Legion assists current and former servicemen and women across a wide range of areas including with jobs and careers, health, finances and housing. Also, this week, the Ministry of Defence announced reforms to the defence estate including moving bases to locations which offer improved opportunities for military families to help them settle into communities, buy their own homes, provide their children with more stable schooling and increase the employment prospects for partners and spouses.
The Remembrance services in Hastings and Rye are reminders of the significant contributions our area has made serving our country which we can reflect on with pride in our neighbours and our communities. Our war memorials in Hastings and Rye record the names of over one thousand residents who have lost their lives at home and abroad in conflicts dating from World War I to the present day. And, recently, there have been calls for the Bexhill Road, St Leonards house which was formerly home to Private Claude Nunney – who was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in World War I – to be recognised with a blue plaque.
Remembering sacrifices locally, the 15th November marks the anniversary of the 1928 sinking of the Mary Stanford lifeboat in Rye Harbour. The boat sank with the tragic loss of all seventeen crew. As coastal communities, we rely on our RNLI crews in Hastings and Rye Harbour and I have seen first-hand their dedication when I was invited on an exercise with the Hastings lifeboat in September this year. I congratulate the successful fundraising to preserve the historic Mary Stanford Lifeboat House.
The men and women of our emergency services deserve our gratitude and support for their tireless work keeping us safe often in some of the most challenging circumstances.
This weekend we will remember those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom. While our acts of commemoration may only last for a couple of weeks, days or minutes each year, we should never lose sight of the debts of gratitude we owe to all those who have served and who continue to serve to keep us safe and free.