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Local veterans enjoy fantastic drive-in concert at airport

Southampton veterans enjoyed a Christmas party with a difference at The Not Forgotten Jingle Bell Rock drive-in concert at Southampton Airport car park.

The Not Forgotten, a British Armed Forces charity which supports serving and ex-service men and women performed in Southampton during their 12-date concert tour which aims to entertain, boost morale and lift lockdown spirits by reaching some 1300 of veterans across the UK.

Over 100 Southampton veterans and their guests enjoyed a feast of festivities in their social bubble at the Jingle Bell Rock concert, providing a real boost to many local residents who have been struggling with loneliness and isolation during months of lockdown and ongoing tier restrictions.

The Not Forgotten professional entertainment team performed a varied set including popular classics and festive favourites which saw veterans letting their hair down and enjoying a singalong and a dance after so many weeks in lockdown. They also got involved with interactive games such as ‘singo bingo’ and a numberplate raffle during the memorable afternoon.

To complete the Christmas party feel, a hog roast with all the trimmings was served to guests which was enjoyed from the safety and warmth of their cars.

The drive-in concert was arranged in strict accordance with local and government COVID-19 guidelines. Each vehicle was parked at a specified distance from others, so veterans and those in their ‘bubble’, could get in the swing of things and dance the afternoon away – in safety.

Commenting on the launch, Brigadier James Stopford, CBE, CEO of The Not Forgotten said: “Sadly, so many events to commemorate VE Day, VJ Day and D Day could not take place properly this year and we’ve had to put our traditional Christmas parties for veterans on hold.

"But it is a year when we need to do more for those who have really felt the restrictions. So, we’ve improvised, adapted and overcome the obstacles and are bringing some much-needed cheer, fun and entertainment to those that have served our country by offering them some early Christmas celebrations.”

Steve Szalay, Operations Director at Southampton Airport and a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, said: “We were honoured to be able to support the brilliant Jingle Bell Rock event today.

"The current COVID-19 restrictions may have put a stop to the annual event’s usual format, but they couldn’t stop organisers being able put on a fantastic showcase to ensure many local veterans enjoyed a truly memorable day out.

"They absolutely deserve nothing less, particularly during these challenging times, and I’m glad Southampton Airport could play a small part.”

The Not Forgotten combats isolation and loneliness amongst the Armed Forces community through social activities and challenge holidays. If you are a serving or ex-member of the Armed Forces or you know of someone that could benefit from the help of The Not Forgotten, please get in touch by contacting Tel: 0207 730 2400.