It is a great privilege to live in a democratic country and to enjoy all the hard won rights and freedoms which we have.

This Sunday we have the opportunity to come together to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedom that we all enjoy today.

This year is especially significant because it marks one hundred years since the end of the First World War.

The centenary anniversary has ensured the Great War has been at the forefront of all our minds and Swindon has joined towns and cities across the country in paying tribute to the fallen.

A number of events have already taken place and over the last few weeks the Council’s Tommy statue has been touring the Borough. This is as part of the “There But Not There” campaign organised by the charity Remembered.

Our Tommy will join other Tommy statues at The Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday and will be a fitting way to end our own #tommyontour social media campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the charity.

We are also using our LED lighting system on the Greenbridge Roundabout to create a poppy effect for the remainder of November.

As always, there will be a number of services taking place across the Borough with the annual Remembrance Sunday parade, led by the Mayor of Swindon, taking place at The Cenotaph.

There will be a two-minute’s silence at The Cenotaph. The Last Post will be played by the trumpeter and, prior to the silence, the sound of shell fire will also reverberate around the town centre. This tribute has been organised by Councillor Kevin Small and will be a sobering reminder of the sounds our brave servicemen would have heard all too frequently on the battlefield.

Remembrance Sunday is a special day. It is very easy with our modern busy lives to take the many rights and freedoms we have for granted. It is so important to remember that we are only free to live our lives in this way because there are men and women who are willing to give their lives to keep us safe.

This Sunday is an opportunity for us all to think of those who died, family members who may have served in battle, or those who may have returned with scars, both physical and mental. We should also use it as an opportunity to give thanks for all those who serve in our Armed Forces today as well as their families.

I would strongly encourage and invite everyone who can to attend a service today. But if you are unable to attend I would still invite you to take some time to pause and contemplate at some point during the day to reflect on the lives we all have and give thanks to those who have and continue to make it possible.

I am minded of the poem by John Maxwell Edmunds - “When you go Home, tell them of us and say, For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today.”