HUNDREDS of people lined the length of the Esplanade yesterday for a moving open-air service as part of Armed Forces Weekend.

The weekend returned with a full programme of events for the first time since the pandemic and the community were out in force, despite the blustery weather, to show their respects.

A Hurricane flypast, courtesy of the Battle of Britain Memorial Team, warmed up the crowd before the service began.

The service, conducted by Reverend Brian Ellis, opened with music from the South Wales Police Band before a wreath laying and minutes silence.

The ceremony was made all the more poignant as the town marked the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War.

Veterans from the Falklands joined other local veterans in a parade along the Esplanade.

Harry Odell, a veteran attending the event, told the Echo: “It’s just amazing to see so many veterans here today and taking part.”

Councillor Louie O’Leary, who represents Littlemoor and Preston said it was fantastic that the event was able to return to a full three days following the pandemic. He said: “It’s a weekend I always look forward to and I know the people of Weymouth all agree how important it is that we rightfully pay tribute to our armed forces and recognise the importance of their work, now and in the past, to keep us all safe.”

One spectator, Billie, said she had brought her children to the event for the first time and said: “It’s such an important day and an event that Weymouth always does so well - even if it is a bit blustery!”

The final Armed Forces Weekend event takes place today with a flag raising ceremony at County Hall in Dorchester.

The flag will be raised as part of a special ceremony hosted by Councillor Val Pothecary, Chairman of Dorset Council, at 10am.

Cllr Pothecary said: “We are privileged to have strong and deep connections with the Armed Forces in Dorset, with serving personnel, veterans and their families making up an important part of our community.”