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Bid to host National Veterans' Day at dockyard

HMS Gannet - one of the Historic Dockyard's visitor attractions
HMS Gannet - one of the Historic Dockyard's visitor attractions

Pressure is growing on the Ministry of Defence to hold next year’s National Veterans’ Day at Chatham’s Historic Dockyard.

It follows the success of the South East Veterans’ Day and TA 100 celebrations at the dockyard earlier this year.

Medway area Labour MPs Jonathan Shaw and Paul Clark, and Medway Labour Cllr Teresa Murray, believe the dockyard would be the ideal location for the event. It would, they say, give local tourism “a huge publicity boost.”

They have written to the Ministry of Defence and many senior military officers, pressing the case for Chatham to host National Veterans’ Day – and are urging all Medway residents to support the bid.

Cllr Murray said: “Earlier this year the dockyard hosted the South East regional event and it was judged to be a huge success. It would be great for Chatham to host the event, given the contribution made by Service personnel to our Towns. Next year will also be 25 years since the closure of the dockyard.”

Paul Clark, MP for Gillingham and Rainham, said: “I attended the event and must praise the organisers for excellent planning and the people-friendly approach. There is no doubt the Dockyard Trust has a proven record of planning and managing highly-successful and cost-effective events like the South East Veterans’ Day.

“Next year is the 25th anniversary of the closure of the dockyard and the creation of the Trust. It will also be the centenary of naval aviation. The dockyard has a 400-year history of building warships and supporting the Royal Navy.”

Jonathan Shaw, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said: “The dockyard is famous throughout the world for its history and record of shipbuilding. This is really one of the key things that put Chatham on the map. People are proud of the Historic Dockyard and it is much loved.

“It is iconic, not only for us, but for the Southeast and the country as a whole.

“The Historic Dockyard has unparalleled facilities to host National Veterans’ Day 2009. We have urged the Ministry of Defence to work with the Trust’s members to facilitate this event and bring National Veterans’ Day to the Historic Dockyard.”

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