Last weekend I attended Remembrance services at St Andrews Church in Redruth and also at Illogan in the afternoon. I have noticed in recent years how attendance at Remembrance Sunday services has grown and how there is often standing room only in the church. I am always struck by just how moving the services are and how much respect people rightly show at this time of year.
There was also a great turnout from the various different scout and cadet groups. It is great to see so many of the next generation showing such a commitment and doing their own bit to remember the sacrifices made by our armed forces personnel. The cadet and scout movements have gone from strength to strength in recent years. What they do need are more adult volunteers as they often have a backlog of young applicants but not enough leaders and more needs to be done to encourage adults to join.
We have been through a decade of conflict and there is no doubt in my mind that the difficult operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan have made the public far more conscious of sacrifices made by our armed forces. The wind down of operations in Afghanistan and the handover to the Afghan army is now well underway with a deadline set for the end of next year that will see all but a few of our troops withdrawn. Last year was a terrible one with a very high number of British casualties but the gradual handover of operations to the Afghan army has led to a substantial reduction in the number of servicemen killed in action over the past nine months. However each and every casualty is still a tragedy for the families left behind. After more than a decade, ending the conflict in Afghanistan will be a relief for all.
I think that the legacy of these conflicts will continue for years because of the extremely young and wounded soldiers they have left behind. We owe these people, who have given up so much at such a young age, all the support they need to help them build new, happy and long lives for themselves. Charities such as Help for Heroes, the Army Benevolent Fund and the Royal British Legion do just that and they have been integral to helping people recover not just from the physical but also mental difficulties that come from being exposed to war. I think their work is absolutely vital.
George Eustice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.