Cornwall took centre stage nationally on Saturday as Falmouth hosted the 15th Armed Forces Day. Thousands of people descended on the Cornish town for the largest military parade ever held in the county.

The railway stations at Truro and Falmouth Docks operated queuing systems to cope with the number of people wanting to attend the event.

More than 1,100 military personnel, veterans and cadets march through the heart of the town in glorious sunshine. Watched by The Duke of Gloucester, they gave His Royal Highness a royal salute, before a flypast by the RAF Red Arrows, an A400M and Royal Navy Merlin helicopters brought formal proceedings to a close.

Upward of 100,000 people were estimated to have converged on Falmouth over the weekend – pumping £7m into the local economy.

It’s the first time Cornwall has hosted the national event.

Despite being one of the least populous counties, Cornwall counts 39,000 inhabitants – one in 13 people – as veterans, with one in every five Cornish residents enjoying a personal or family connection to the armed forces.

By far the largest piece of military hardware on show was frigate HMS Richmond, berthed in Falmouth docks. Some 6,000 tickets to tour the ship – open to the public on both days of the weekend – were snapped up long in advance of Armed Forces Day.

And the frigate used the ‘quiet’ Friday on the cusp of the weekend to host around 800 local school children interesting in studying STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – as they look to their futures.

“Having the school children on board with their engagement, their enthusiasm, their willingness to learn, has been infectious,” said Richmond’s commanding Chris L’Amie.

Cornwall Council leader Councillor Linda Taylor said: “The armed forces are at the heart of every Cornish community, and these celebrations are based on respect, admiration and real gratitude. Cornwall has always been of strategic importance – as guardian of the world’s busiest shipping lane, as an innovator of military invention, and as a proud home to service personnel and their families.”

Personnel from RAF St Mawgan played their part in the event.               

Clare Fearnley, the station warrant officer at RAF St Mawgan, said: “As the only RAF Station in the South West, it’s a real honour for RAF St Mawgan to be such an integral part of this prestigious national event. 

“The personnel based at RAF St Mawgan work tirelessly throughout the year supporting the armed forces’ mission to keep the UK safe, so it’s great to see such a big turn out of public support from our community to recognise that.

“The parade has been a real highlight for us. It’s really important that we maintain that strong connection we have with the Cornish community and they are aware of the station’s 80-year history of contributing to defence.”