Rishi Sunak meets veterans to mark Armed Forces Day

Rishi Sunak meeting veterans near Northallerton
The Prime Minister spoke to about 12 veterans at a cafe in his constituency [Reuters]

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been speaking with veterans who gathered in his North Yorkshire constituency to mark Armed Forces Day.

Sharing tea and cake with them at the Ellerton Lakeside Cafe near Northallerton, Mr Sunak joked that he "needed a lot of sugar" to get through his day.

He was told about initiatives to tackle veterans' homelessness, mental health problems and issues facing service families at the nearby Catterick Garrison.

Elsewhere in the county, thousands of people watched an air display above Scarborough's South Beach for the town's Armed Forces Day celebrations.

The seaside event also included live music from The Yorkshire Volunteers Band, an acrobatic display and a parade.

Visitors were treated to displays by the RAF Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 and the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire and Hurricane, from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

World War Two veteran Ray Whitwell, 105, was the guest of honour.

In Harrogate, a service took place at Stonefall Cemetery to mark members of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force - the volunteer arm of the RAF - who lost their lives in service.

Details of the lives of some of those volunteers who are buried at the cemetery have been released by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as part of a project to celebrate the RAAF.

Speaking after the event, Wing Cdr Howard Leader said: "Today is an important commemorative event as part of our 100th anniversary year. This year we are marking 100 years of volunteer reserve service.

"Over that 100 years a lot of reservists have served all around the world in support of RAF operations."

He added: "Of course in the nature of the work that they do, a number of those people have lost their lives in active service.

"Today’s commemorative service is about remembering all of those fallen forebears of ours and remembering also, that wherever the RAF deploys today the RAAF goes with them, and occasionally still there are sadly casualties, and we will be thinking of those people too."

Armed Forces Day falls on the final Saturday in June, and aims to pay homage to veterans, military personnel and service families. It has been marked in the UK since the late noughties.

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