As Remembrance Sunday nears, we as a nation take time to pause and reflect upon our immense gratitude to the men and women, veterans and their families who have served our United Kingdom at home and away.
In the year of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, we commemorate the Service and sacrifice of those who lost their lives protecting our freedoms.
It is a particularly important time of the year for us in Maidstone, as our community is home to the servicemen and women, veterans and their families of the 36 Engineer Regiment.
Maidstone’s history is interwoven with that of our Armed Forces.The first of our two army barracks was built in 1797 as the threat of Napoleon loomed from across the Channel, and King George III even visited Mote Park to inspect 3,000 of our finest local militia, assembled from across Kent in anticipation of an invasion. Since then, the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment based in Maidstone have fought across the world in campaigns of the 18th and 19th century, and the First and Second World Wars. I recommend you visit the excellent display of our prestigious history in Maidstone Museum.
Today, the Invicta Park Barracks is home to the 36 Engineer Regiment. The Regiment includes a Headquarters Squadron, Field Squadrons, a Field Support Squadron, and of course the world renowned Queens Gurkha Engineers.
I spent two months teaching in a school in rural Western Nepal a few years ago and experienced the kind hospitality of the Nepalese, along with my first experience of a ‘home away from home’. I am particularly proud, as I know many others are, that we can extend generosity and hospitality to Gurkha families here in Maidstone.
This November I’ll be volunteering with colleagues during my lunch break, helping to sell British Legion poppies to busy city workers in support of our Armed Forces community. On Remembrance Sunday I hope to see many of you at the Remembrance Sunday Parade and Service starting at the Town Hall - as we join to reflect and give thanks to men and women today and in years past, who have fought to protect us.