Altonian Bob Graham will perform his last official duty as the Royal Hampshire Regimental Standard bearer when he carries the flag through Hampshire on the back of an open-top jeep in the Armed Forces Day convoy on Saturday.
Bob is retiring at the age of 68. And in a fitting climax to his 20-year career, the convoy’s final destination will be Anstey Park in Alton.
He said: “I came out of the Army in October 1994 after serving 23 years, mainly in the Royal Hampshire Regiment.
“I started standard bearing in 1995 for the Alton Royal British Legion, but then the standard bearer from the Royal Hampshire Regiment passed away at a young age so I took over his role.”
Bob is pictured at Asnelles in France last month. The Royal Hampshire Regiment presented a granite bench to thank villagers who cared for its soldiers at a medical post in their church on D-Day in 1944, when 66 Royal Hampshires died as the Allies took Gold Beach. Bob said: “France was amazing, it was one of the best things I’ve done.”
Looking forward to Saturday, he said: “I’m 68 years old and still working full-time as head porter at Treloar’s. I walk about 15,000 steps a day so that keeps me fit, but I hope it’s not a hot day. My two brothers were in the Royal Hampshires too, and my brother-in-law. There’s definitely a family connection to the regiment.
“I did nine tours of Northern Ireland, was in one of the first regiments to go to the Falklands after the conflict, and I’ve also seen Hong Kong and Canada – some gorgeous places.”
Bob has given up standard bearing because of the marching – “I can’t manage Crown Hill anymore” – but still hopes to perform static roles.
He said: “On Saturday it will be emotional as I’m carrying the Royal Hampshire Regimental Standard.
“Next time when I’m reading the poem and someone else is carrying the standard it will hurt a little bit – but my health comes first.”