Parade tribute through Victoria Park, Leicester, to honour Battle of Britain fliers
Standing shoulder to shoulder, war veterans and young cadets paraded through Leicester yesterday to commemorate those who fought in the Battle of Britain.
Following a short march through Victoria Park, wreaths were laid at the cenotaph, before the parade then continued to the Church of St James the Greater for a service.
Up to 40 veterans and about 150 Air Training Corps cadets took part in the parade, which is held in Leicester each year to mark the bravery of RAF pilots who defended the skies above England during the summer and autumn of 1940.
Parade organiser John Gough, chairman of the Great Glen branch of the Royal Air Force Association, said the event was getting more poignant each year.
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"There aren't many veterans left so we have to keep going as long as we can," he said. "Eventually we'll be made up wholly of cadets, with the exception of those who have come out of Afghanistan and Iraq.
"The service always has its solemnity but after that we go to the pub and that's where all the veterans' stories come out."
Parade marshall Warrant Officer Mark Butler, of the 2229 Loughborough Squadron of the Air Training Corps, said: "Today is about commemorating the Battle of Britain and raising awareness of the history of it, because it doesn't always get taught in schools.
"It's important to keep the tradition going."
Veterans Roy Rudham and Bert Horobin were among 19 standard bearers taking part.
Mr Rudham, secretary of the Leicester branch of the RAF Association, said: "It's vitally important to commemorate the Battle of Britain. If it hadn't been for the sacrifices made then, none of us would be here, quite frankly, and we wouldn't enjoy the freedom we do."
Mr Horobin, Braunstone branch treasurer, said: "A lot of people lost their lives for our freedom. We have to remember all those brave people, and not forget the people serving today as well."
Proud parents watched the parade and attended the service as their children took part.
Helen and Michael Earl, of Ratby, were there with their 12-year-old son, Daniel, to support his brother Joseph, 14.
"We're very proud," Mr Earl said. "He wants to be an airline pilot so we thought this would be a good step on to the ladder."
Tracey and Phil Norman, of Syston, watched proudly as their son, Sergeant Andrew Norman, 17, carried the Union flag at the front of the parade.
Tracey, 49, said: "It was a rousing experience and we're so proud of him."
Flight Sergeant Ben Woolhouse, 18, of Coalville, was among the cadets taking part.
"It's very important that we commemorate the Battle of Britain and you feel quite proud when you're up there."
Sergeant Danielle Holford, 17, from Glenfield, laid a wreath at the cenotaph. "I felt proud," she said. "It's good to be a part of something so special."