East Lothian’s Provost, Councillor John McMillan, and Lord Lieutenant Roderick Urquhart led a flag-raising ceremony to mark the start of Armed Forces Week (19-24 June).

Veterans and their families, representatives of veterans’ organisations and Councillors gathered on Court Street, Haddington with piper Rod Paton for a brief ceremony. Here, Councillor McMillan and Lord Lieutenant Roderick Urquhart reflect on the significant contribution our Armed Forces past and present make to our county.

Provost John McMillan

Cllr McMillan is proud to act as the county’s Veterans and Reserves Champion, saying:

“I was honoured to accept the appointment as Veterans and Reserves Champion and to continue the work started by my predecessor, Councillor Jim Goodfellow. We both believe strongly in the value that our Armed Forces personnel – past and present – contribute to East Lothian and wider society, and want to ensure this is recognised far and wide.

“East Lothian is very fortunate to have active Veterans groups, with monthly breakfast meetings organised by volunteers, offering Veterans the opportunity to meet and socialise with people who share their experiences. It is always a great pleasure to spend time talking with veterans and their families so I attend monthly to learn from them and to offer any support that I can.

“Whether attending meetings with the Cabinet Secretary or at Veterans Housing Scotland, visiting Lady Haig Poppy Factory to meet its staff or laying a wreath at Champigny Sur Marne, site of the Battle of the Marne where my grandfather served with the 2/8 Royal Scots, I always strive to listen to our veterans’ stories, reflect them in my own work and champion our forces at every opportunity. I may act as an ambassador for the Armed Forces community and our commitment to supporting them here in East Lothian however I believe the best ambassadors are the personnel, our veterans and their families.

“My experiences have allowed me to see the constructive support veterans and veterans organisations give each other. Those who have served in our forces continue to serve in our communities, in sports clubs and foodbanks. They lend their skills to society in so many ways through their employment in the private and public sector and through their volunteering. In the case of our Reservists, they balance employment alongside their commitment to the Armed Forces with both forums benefiting from the transfer of skills and experiences.

“Armed Forces Week is an opportunity for the country to come together to recognise the significant contribution that Service personnel and Reservists make to our country, and the sacrifices that both they and their families make on our behalf. I am very proud that we will be flying the Armed Forces flag in East Lothian which gives our thanks and recognition of the past and present and also provides a focus for continued future appreciation.”

Lord-Lieutenant Roderick Urquhart

Lord-Lieutenant Roderick Urquhart, the King’s Representative for East Lothian, attended the Armed Forces Week celebrations and met with veterans and their families as well as representatives of veterans’ organisations and council staff with service experience. He said:  

“As Lord-Lieutenant and His Majesty the King’s Representative for East Lothian, I am delighted to attend with so many people when the official flag is raised to mark Armed Forces Day celebrations. Across the UK, flags will be raised today to show support for our Armed Forces.

“Armed Forces Week is the annual opportunity for us all to come together in recognition and celebration of the wonderful service provided by our regular and reservist soldiers, sailors, airforce and marines past and present, and the familes that have supported them in turn.

"The UK’s armed forces defend the UK and its interests around the world. They promote and help deliver peace, they provide a key role in tackling drug smuggling, they fight terrorism and provide security for us. They also take part in both moving and very special national ceremonial events, the most recent being Trooping the Colour on Saturday.

"Showing our support for our Armed Forces provide a much-valued and appreciated morale boost for all of our serving troops and their families, and I speak as the father of an officer in the Royal Navy.

"I want to take this opportunity to thank those representatives in East Lothian Council and especially the Provost, who by their work, recognise and endorse the value and critical importance of our armed forces, and who also help champion the various reservist and veteran groups across our county.”

East Lothian Council is a signatory of an Armed Forces Covenant, which brings together key partners from the council alongside health, education, service and veterans’ organisations to create policy and practices that will support armed forces personnel, both serving and retired, and their families.

It has received the Ministry of Defence’s prestigious Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Silver Award, the second-highest badge of honour available to organisations that employ and support Reservists, service leavers, Veterans and their families.


Published: Monday, 19th June 2023