Published: Wednesday, 22nd Mar 2023

Bolton has formally affiliated with a Royal Navy helicopter squadron, continuing the borough’s proud tradition of building close links with the armed forces.

Naval Affiliation 1A signing ceremony in the town hall marked the official affiliation between Bolton at the 820 Naval Air Squadron.

The unit has already established close ties with the town but the formal ceremony was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The affiliation is a partnership between the squadron and the whole of Bolton, not just the council.

The agreement will help local schools, colleges and the university to work closely with the armed forces, gain valuable insights into their work and build links to the officer training school.

The ceremony was attended by members of the 820 Naval Air Squadron, including Commander Ian Varley.

The squadron operates Merlin Helicopters from navy aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

Bolton has a long and proud armed forces tradition, including important historical ties with the Royal Navy.

In the 1940’s, Bolton adopted HMS Dido after local people raised more than one million pounds to fund the construction of the light cruiser.

Bolton Council Leader, Cllr Martyn Cox, said:

“Bolton is rightly proud of its historical connections with the armed forces, so it was an easy decision when we were asked to affiliate with a Royal Navy Air Squadron.

“It was an honour to welcome members of the 820 Naval Air Squadron today and to formally mark this partnership.

“I look forward to local schools and other groups building strong links in the years to come.”

Bolton Council’s Armed Forces Champion, Cllr Andy Morgan, said:

“As a veteran who served in the Army Air Corp, it was a privilege to be part of the signing ceremony.

“We receive regular updates from the squadron, detailing their activities in areas of Cyprus, the Suez Canal, the South China Seas, the Mediterranean, and Norway to name a few.

“These updates are a welcome reminder of the hard work and sacrifices made by our armed forces to keep us all safe.”

Bolton Council signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant in 2015, pledging to put armed forces personnel and veterans at the heart of public services.

It includes commitments to support local veterans’ charities, build links with cadet units and help veterans transition into civilian life.