The countdown to the 2019 National Armed Forces Day National Event weekend officially began today in Salisbury, with the support of the Royal British Legion Band and Sticky Toffee Jazz.

The Armed Forces Day National Event 2019 will be a huge event for Wiltshire and will provide a major boost to the local economy. It is hoped that Royal Family members will be in attendance, along with senior government ministers, dignitaries and well-known celebrities.

Next year’s Armed Forces Day National Event celebration will take place over three days, from 28-30 June 2019, in Salisbury, where an anticipated 250,000 people will celebrate and recognise our Armed Forces and the vital role they perform in protecting us and our country, as well as honouring our veterans. The event will also provide the perfect opportunity to welcome the troops returning from Germany to Wiltshire, as almost one-quarter of the British regular army will be based in the county by 2020.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Following the appalling chemical attack in March the decision to have Salisbury host Armed Forces Day 2019 was an easy one to make.

“I am certain the city will honour the troops who work tirelessly to protect us from the threats that we face at home and abroad. The people of Salisbury have shown extraordinary resilience in the face of great adversity caused by the Kremlin’s extremely irresponsible actions. The hosting of this national event will reinforce that the city is very much open for business.”

Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE, leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “Wiltshire is the beating heart of the Armed Forces and we are extremely proud of our long association with the military.

“We are absolutely delighted that Wiltshire has been selected to host Armed Forces Day National Event 2019 next year.

“Just how much we need and owe to our Armed Forces was brought home this year this extraordinary year following the terrible and unprecedented incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury.

“The Armed Forces Day National Event is a unique opportunity to recognise and pay tribute to the specialist military teams, the emergency services and the other organisations that managed the incident and the subsequent clean-up that has helped south Wiltshire to return to normal.

“The communities in Salisbury, Amesbury and south Wiltshire have shown remarkable resilience and fortitude since the incidents and this event will also be a thank you to those local communities for their stoicism and support.

“Our plans for the Armed Forces Day National Event will showcase to the nation and further afield that we truly honour our military personnel.

“The Armed Forces Day National Event 2019 will the most spectacular event so far, and one that Wiltshire and Salisbury truly deserves.”

Sir Andrew Gregory, Chief Executive, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, said: “SSAFA’s and Wiltshire’s heritage are intrinsically linked to the Armed Forces and we are very much looking forward to working closely with Wiltshire Council as the main charity for the Armed Forces Day National Event 2019.

“SSAFA has supported the Armed Forces community since 1885 and last year we assisted over 73,000 people. We are pleased to be at the heart of the official celebration which gives the opportunity for the public to show their support and appreciation for serving members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.”

John Leary, Major Projects Director of the Armed Forces Day National Event 2019 Gold Sponsor Lovell Partnerships Ltd, said: “Following Lovell’s signing of the Armed Forces Covenant in 2017 and our continued close working relationship with the MoD, we are proud to be supporters of the Armed Forces every day, and especially delighted to provide our support to what will be an extremely important celebration of the Armed Forces Day National Event in the historic military county of Wiltshire.”

Rob Hibberd, Director of the Armed Forces Day National Event 2019 Gold Sponsor Nationwide Engineering, said: “Nationwide Engineering Group recognises the importance of the Armed Forces and we are very privileged to be able to sponsor the Wiltshire Armed Forces Day National Event.”

Paul Moorby, Managing Director of the Armed Forces Day National Event 2019 Gold Sponsor MiPermit, said: “Wiltshire Council were the very first adopters of our digital platform. Salisbury has been a long-term supporter of our system, launching their own digital permits in 2011. The public throughout Wiltshire have supported us by using our system, suggesting ongoing innovation and placing their business with us. As a team, we want to say a huge thank you to our Armed Forces for everything they did to get life back to normal. We look forward to a great event in 2019, befitting Wiltshire’s proud heritage, showcasing the very best of Wiltshire and its friends. We are very proud, humbled and honoured to be able to support the Armed Forces Day National Event.”

A stimulating and exciting three-day themed programme that will attract the whole community is planned. It will feature military parades, fly pasts and an air show, concerts, live entertainment, trade stands and exhibitors, as well as military and other displays, along with a host of VIP events, and the addition of a veterans’ and cadets’ day, which will include a service of remembrance.

The event will be widely covered by local, national and international media, and through the BFBS, will be live linked to Germany and to bases across the world.

As well as being a record-breaking the Armed Forces Day National Event, also planned is an attempt to break a world record by creating the largest human poppy on the event