The annual Falklands memorial service at the Cenotaph took place on the 9th December under a brilliant cloudless sky. This commemorates all those who gave their lives liberating the Falklands from Argentine occupation in 1982. But it originally commemorated the naval Battle of the Falkland Islands, on the 8th of December 1914, and those who gave their lives then.
Parade Marshal was Air Commodore Peter Johnson OBE, a former commander of British Forces in the Falklands, and member of the Falkland Islands Association committee. The Colour Party and escorts were provided by Pangbourne College cadets and HMS PRESIDENT. Royal Marine Bugler Kim Hare signalled the minute’s silence. The service was conducted by the Reverend Dr Richard Hines, former vicar of Christchurch Cathedral in Stanley.
Wreaths were laid for Britain’s Armed Forces by Major General Keith Spacie CB OBE, a former Military Commissioner and Commander British Forces Falkland Islands, by Ms Sukey Cameron MBE, Representative in the UK for the Falkland Islands Government; by Mr Andrew Rosindell MP for the Falkland Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group; by Mr Alan Huckle, for the Falkland Islands Association; by Mrs Nina Ashton, on behalf of Falklands Families Association; by Mr Gordon Mather MM, for the South Atlantic Medal Association; by Mr Colin Vitler for the HMS PROTECTOR Association; by Mr. John Kingsmell, for the Association of Men of Kent & Kentish Men; and by Falklands students in Britain for the young people of the Falkland Islands.
The AGM of the Falkland Islands Association took place immediately after the ceremony at the Cenotaph.
Association Chairman, former Falklands Governor Mr Alan Huckle, gave a summary of Association activities and events in the Islands. He began with a tribute to Sir Cosmo Haskard, KCMG, MBE, who was governor of the Falklands between 1964 and 1970, but died last February only weeks after his 100th birthday. Mr Huckle said that Sir Cosmo had played a critical role in opposing a draft agreement between Britain and Argentina in 1968 that would have been a first step in the handover of UK sovereignty to Argentina. He said that Sir Cosmo had encouraged Islanders to speak out against this, which led to the formation of the Falkland Islands Emergency Committee that was the precursor of the current Falkland Islands Association. Sir Cosmo had maintained a life-long interest in the Falklands.
Mr Huckle reported that democracy was alive and well in the Falklands and in the November elections five new members were voted onto the Legislative Assembly. And he welcomed the new governor, Nigel Phillips CBE, who was appointed in September after a distinguished military career.
Mr Huckle remarked that the Falklands financial position is secure, although it was still necessary occasionally to counter ill-informed opinion that the Falklands depended on UK budgetary assistance. He pointed out that the Falklands had healthy reserves, no public debt, fully funded pensions, and was completely self-sufficient, except in defence.
Mr Huckle reported that UK – Argentine relations had improved with President Macri’s policy that relations with Britain should no longer be dominated by the single issue of the Falklands, as it had been under the Kirchner presidencies. And he noted that President Macri had done well in the mid-term elections in November.
Mr Huckle also said that Argentina had welcomed UK assistance in the search for their lost submarine recently. And this had led to the landing of an RAF aircraft carrying rescue equipment from the Falklands in Argentina – the first since the 1982 war. There had also been a major trade visit to Argentina led by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the first by a British cabinet minister since 2001. And Britain had promised a total of a billion pounds in export guarantees to encourage British trade with Argentina. Further goodwill had been generated by the identification by DNA analysis of many of the unidentified Argentine fallen soldiers in their cemetery in the Falklands.
Islander Amy Guest was announced as winner of the Bill Hunter-Christie Prize for the Falklands young person who has been judged to done most to bring credit to the Falklands this year. She is in the middle of a four-year biology degree course at Oxford Brookes University. She could not be present to receive her prize as she was in the Islands, but sent the message that she was “proud to have been chosen for the award”.
Mr Andrew Rosindell MP spoke assuring the Association of continuing Parliamentary support. He said that there was a lot going on in Parliament at the moment, but there was huge cross-party support for the Falklands.