CIVIC leaders joined army veterans to hoist the armed forces flag at Skipton Town Hall this morning.


The raising of the flag marked the start of Armed Forces Week which will conclude on Sunday.


Today's ceremony was hosted by Craven District Council chairman, Cllr Stephen Place, and attended by the Mayor of Skipton, Andy Rankine, veterans from the Royal British Legion, and the Rev Veronica James, Rector of Holy Trinity Church, who blessed the flag.


The flag was raised at 10am, coinciding with similar ceremonies across the country.


On Sunday, Armed Forces Day, there will be


a parade of cadets and veterans at 3.30pm followed by the lowering of the flag, with refreshments provided afterwards in Holy Trinity Church.


The flag will be presented to Lieutenant Colonel Laurence Smith MBE, who served in the Royal Artillery from 1963 to 2003. He began as a gunner and worked his way up through the ranks, serving in Germany, the Far East, Northern Ireland, the Falklands and the Gulf War.


Lt Col Smith, who now lives in Sutton-in-Craven with his wife Barbara. Since retiring from the forces, he has worked with SSAFA, the UK charity which provides welfare and support for those serving in the armed forces, veterans and armed forces families. In November 2002 he was awarded the RA Medal, the Gunners top honour, for outstanding contribution to the Royal Artillery over the years.


Armed Forces Day is being organised by Skipton Town Council and Craven District Council.