Thousands honour Armed Forces at Staffordshire’s National Memorial Arboretum

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Crowds gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum’s Armed Forces Memorial in Alrewas, Staffordshire to honour the country’s fallen soldiers.

Visitors of all ages enjoyed a selection of music from the West Midlands Police Brass Band and the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Warwickshire Band.

The Rt Reverend Alastair Redfern, Bishop of Derby, led the ceremony with a warm welcome to everyone that braved the cold to pay their respects.

He highlighted to the 4,500 visitors that the Arboretum holds much of the history and hope of our nation.

He urged everyone to reflect on how we can learn to play our part in fighting for peace and then invited guests to remember deeply and humbly, with thanksgiving, challenges that have been faced and opportunities for peace.

Finally, both visitors and military representatives took to the steps of the Armed Forces Memorial to lay wreaths as a touching final mark of respect.

Sarah Oakden, National Memorial Arboretum’s head of marketing, said: “It was a fantastic service, we’re delighted by how many people came out to join us.

“Particularly as this was our first Remembrance Sunday since we opened our new Remembrance Centre.”

StaffsLive spoke to a self-confessed ‘band of brothers’ (pictured) who visit the Arboretum every year.

Though they chose to remain unnamed, they shared their thoughts on the event.

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They said: “We’re part of a group of Royal Engineer Sappers that met 50 years ago and here we are 50 years later still together.

“We come here to pay our respects to The Royal Engineer’s dead and everyone else.

“We mainly served in Northern Ireland, at the time we were in it was the only conflict apart from the Falklands.

“We’re all veterans of 50 years and we love coming here to meet people and comrades.

“This is a life, a lifetime thing, a family and we’re still a band of brothers.”

Visitors were also invited to sign the World’s biggest Christmas card.

This is the National Arboretum’s Guinness World Record breaking attempt to get 20,000 signatures.

The card has 3,000 signatures so far and will be presented to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces in December in recognition of their service and sacrifice.

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