Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Pony helps launch military events

Corporal Mark Wilkinson with Cruachan III, left, and Cruachan IV (Mark Owens/Army HQ Scotland/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA)

One of the Army's newest four-legged recruits has helped launch the programme for this year's Armed Forces Day in Scotland.

Cruachan IV is a Shetland pony and official mascot for the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

He carried out his first job in April during a homecoming parade for 1SCOTS on their return from Afghanistan.

At Redford Barracks in Edinburgh, the three-year old and his retired 23-year-old predecessor, Cruachan III, were led by Corporal Mark Wilkinson, Pony Major, as they joined personnel from the Army, Navy and RAF to promote the UK's fifth Armed Forces Day which is on Saturday June 29.

The first event is Stirling Military Show on Saturday June 22, followed by flag-raising ceremonies in various villages, towns and cities the following Monday.

Most of the events are on Saturday June 29 with parades, civic receptions and flypasts by Typhoon and Spitfire aircraft.

Wing Commander Mark Flewin is based at RAF Leuchars and is commanding the Typhoon flypasts over Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

"It's exciting but extremely important first of all to show thanks for the broader contribution of the armed forces, but also to show what the RAF contribute, such as RAF Leuchars's contribution towards quick reaction alert which is clearly a very important role in the defence of the UK and territory," he said. Quick reaction alert is having personnel, aircraft and engineers ready to respond to any threat in UK airspace.

Colonel Phil Bates, commander of the Edinburgh garrison, said the day is important because "it shows appreciation for the work we do and if you take out the extreme end of military involvement, it's a recognition that we are citizens of the country".

He said: "For me it's bonding, it's appreciation and it's growing. We're very grateful that it's growing but each community needs to show its appreciation in its own way."

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