His Royal Highness Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex, attended St Anne’s Cathedral on December 2 for an Act of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for regiments and units returning from active service in Afghanistan.
The interdenominational service was hosted by 19 Light Brigade which recently returned to its home base in Lisburn after its deployment on Operation Herrick in Helmand Province. Families of those who died in the conflict were among the 600 guests in the cathedral.
The Earl of Wessex represented Her Majesty the Queen. The Earl is Royal Colonel of 2nd Battalion, The Rifles. The Battalion is based at Ballykinler in County Down and is one of the main units in 19 Light Brigade.
In an extremely moving service the names of all those on the Operation Herrick 10 Roll of Honour was read out by Brigadier Tim Radford OBE, Commander of the 19 Light Brigade. There were more than 80 names, and included the two soldiers murdered at Masareene Barracks, Antrim, on March 7 this year. Saper Cengiz Patrick Azimkar and Sapper Mark Quinsey were members of the 38 Engineer Regiment.
Members of the 19 Light Brigade were deployed on Operation Herrick 10 as Task Force Helmand. Operation Herrick 10 was conducted between April 10 and October 10 this year by 9,000 British Service men and women from across the Armed Forces. Of these more than 5,000 were part of Task Force Helmand.
Army chaplains were among the clergy taking part in the service which was conducted by the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Dr Houston McKelvey, who also preached. Also present were the Bishop of Down & Dromore, the Rt Rev Harold Miller, and the Bishop of Connor the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy. Other guests included The Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP, Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal; The Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth MP, Secretary of State for Defence; and Sir Jock Stirrup, Defence Staff Air Marshall. The Rt Hon Paul Goggins MP represented the Northern Ireland Office.
On his arrival, the Earl of Wessex was greeted at St Anne’s Cathedral by Dame Mary Peters DBE Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast and he went on to meet, among others, Councillor Naomi Long MLA, The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of Belfast; Councillor Francis McCoubrey, Sherriff for the County Borough of Belfast; The Rt Hon Peter Robinson MP MLA, First Minister of Northern Ireland; and the Dean.