Published 13 July 2010

For nearly 90 years, the Royal British Legion has blazed the trail in caring for the men and women to whom we owe our freedom.

The Duke of Sussex

It is a privilege for me to be here this evening. Obviously much has rightly been made of the extraordinary valour and professionalism of our Armed Forces serving on operations overseas. Less has been made of the magnificent response to that contribution by the British public. Therefore, this evening the first British Legion Friends of the Forces Awards goes a long way to putting that right.

From my own time in Afghanistan, I believe I have a genuine feeling for just how much the support, thoughtfulness, and love of those left back home means to our men and women in uniform overseas. The Award Winners tonight need to know – if they don’t know already – quite how fundamental an effect what they do has on raising the morale of those in harms way, far from home. If I may be a little presumptuous for a minute, can I thank you from the very bottom of my heart for all that you have done, are doing, and will do for the future.

For nearly 90 years, the Royal British Legion has blazed the trail in caring for the men and women to whom we owe our freedom. To me, these Awards show that this devotion continues as strongly as ever today.

It just remains for me to say, have a wonderful evening – congratulations to the first ever Friends of the Forces Awards Winners.