THE MAYOR of Basingstoke and Deane, Cllr Diane Taylor, has paid tribute to the armed forces.

The message comes on an Armed Forces Day with a difference, as the planned ceremony was forced to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, a low-key ceremony was held where the mayor and her consort, Dr Andy Taylor, read messages, and a lone bugler played the Last Post.

Cllr Taylor said at the ceremony: "The world emergency that we are living through right now is a reminder that we never know what lies around the corner.

"The knowledge that we have our great armed forces trained and ready for any eventuality gives us tremendous reassurance.

"Those same forces have sacrificed so much in past conflicts to protect the freedoms that we enjoy in this country.

"Life never stands still and threats to this nation could rise up at any time.

"We can never be complacent but we can be ready and today is a celebration of that readiness.

"It is also time to express our gratitude that men and women of this borough and of this nation are prepared to stand up and fight for our freedom and wellbeing should the call come.

"We are so fortunate, so blessed, to have our excellent armed forces and that includes veterans, reservists and cadets.

"To everyone that has served and everyone that serves today in the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force, we sincerely and wholeheartedly thank you."