Cheltenham Lap of Honour

PERSONNEL from all three Armed Services launched the world renowned horseracing Festival at Cheltenham by completing The British Forces Foundation's ‘Lap of Honour’ – from the Winning Post to the Winner’s Enclosure.

The event provided the perfect opportunity for the nation to show its support to the serving men and women of their Armed Forces.

The route was completed to thunderous applause from a crowd of 55,000 spectators and was televised to serving personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan so they could witness first hand the nation’s unwavering support and appreciation. All those who took part in Lap of Honour had recently returned, or were about to deploy, to theatres in those countries.

Flt Lt Dan Wilkinson, a pilot of 24 Sqn at RAF Lyneham, was among the personnel invited to the Cheltenham Festival. He said: "It was a very bizarre experience and hugely enjoyable. It was an emphatic show of appreciation for what we've been doing in places like Afghanistan, and it suddenly makes you realise how important that job is. It's very rare for us to get to feel proud of what we do."

Marine Lee Coates, of CSG in Plymouth, echoed those sentiments: "It was a hoofing good day. It's great to fly the flag and get such brilliant public recognition."

And LCpl Jason Grims, of the KRH, added: "You don't get many welcomes like that! To be in front of so many people showing their support was an amazing experience."

Having watched from the stands, Richard Smith from Seaham Harbour, wrote to Cheltenham Racecourse: "Could you please pass on my thanks to all those involved in honouring Her Majesty's Forces on Festival Tuesday. It was a superb gesture and quite emotional; I hope it can be repeated."

The first Lap of Honour was held at Wembley Stadium in 2008, ahead of England’s Euro 2008 game against Croatia. and also involved servicemen and women from the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Marines Forces.

Commenting on the Lap of Honour visit to The Festival, Mark Cann, Director of The British Forces Foundation, said: “Euro 2008 was always going to be a hard act to follow, but thanks to the team at Cheltenham Racecourse and tremendous support from the British public, we surpassed expectations today.”

Cheltenham Racecourse Managing Director, Edward Gillespie, added: “After seeing the impact the Lap of Honour had at Wembley Stadium, we were delighted and proud to play host to such a worthy cause today.”

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