Monday 17 July saw Royal Gun Salutes taking place up and down the UK to celebrate the birthday of HM Queen Camilla. One of these 21-gun salutes was fired from Edinburgh Castle, with Lowland RFCA and a number of special guests from across the Lowland community in attendance.
The morning began with a welcome reception in the Castle Officers’ Mess, where the guests were invited to meet and mingle over a cup of tea before the official festivities. The gathering included a range of Forces-friendly employers and community representatives, with familiar faces from SSAFA, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, Police Scotland, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde and Mister Singh’s India making an appearance.
At 11am, a warm welcome was delivered by Lowland RFCA Chief Executive Colonel Ted Shields on behalf of Major General Alistair Bruce, Governor of Edinburgh Castle. This was followed by a brief address from Commander Andy Poulton-Watt, the Association’s Vice Chairm (Navy), who paid tribute to the employers for their support to the Armed Forces community, and to the Cadet Force Adult Volunteers who freely give their time and talents to supporting and teaching so many young people throughout the country.
Moving into the Mess’ stunning Oak Room, the guests were treated to a short history on the 21-gun salute, which was formalised in 1808 as a ceremony to honour Heads of State and members of the Royal Family. This led on to one of the morning’s main events: the presentation of three new Armed Forces Covenants and presentation of the Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Bronze Award to those organisations. The new signatories were:
- Thermo Fisher Scientific, a supplier of scientific equipment and software services
- Alpha – One Plus Ltd, a Glasgow-based security company
- West Lothian College, a further education institution in Livingston
Following the conclusion of the presentations, the attendees prepared to move outside and take their seats for the Royal Gun Salute at midday. Usually the Gun Salute is coordinated and carried out by members of the local Reserve Gunner unit, 105 Regiment Royal Artillery. On this occasion, however, as many of the Reservists were busy in their civilian jobs, the task fell to their Regular counterparts from 3 Regiment Royal Horse Artillery. Overseeing the salute was Colonel Tony Phillips, Deputy Commander of 51st Infantry Brigade and Headquarters Scotland, and also Chair of the Lowland RFCA Regional Employer Engagement Board (REEB).
As midday approached, a hush fell over the crowd of invited guests and touring visitors, and at twelve o’clock sharp, the silence was broken by the steady rhythms of the guns being loaded, fired and reloaded. Once all 21 rounds had been successfully fired, Colonel Phillips was invited to review the Gunners before joining them for a formal photograph.
‘It was such an honour to be invited here today and it’s been a really enjoyable experience,’ said Theresa Penrice, Community Crew Commander from Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, who will be receiving its ERS Gold Award later this year. ‘Seeing how well the Gunners conducted themselves made me feel really proud and patriotic, and as a Forces-friendly employer it means the world to us to be included in an event like this.’
Frank Farra, a Fabrication and Welding Lecturer from West Lothian College and Veteran of the Royal Engineers, also spoke highly of the event: ‘It was a great privilege to receive the ERS Bronze Award here today. It’s a lovely location and being an ex-military man myself it was great to attend a Royal Gun Salute alongside this presentation.’