LEDBURY looks set to have a new annual diary date to celebrate, with a service planned to mark Merchant Navy Day, for the first time ever in the market town.

Ledbury Town Council will holding the service "to honour those from the Merchant Navy who served and the many who lost their lives during the conflicts of the First and Second World Wars and the Falklands War".

A spokesman said: "We owe a tremendous debt to the courage and sacrifice of our Merchant Navy both in conflict and peace time.

"We invite all Merchant Navy personnel, their families and descendants of those who served in either conflict or who are currently serving in the Merchant Navy to join us for a Service of Remembrance. We respectfully request that medals and decorations are worn. We welcome all of those from surrounding towns and parishes."

A town council working party has been looking into how best to mark the day.

On idea is to purchase and fly a Red Ensign flag, which will cost the town council £45.71.

Cllr Jean Simpson said: "Celebrating Merchant Navy Day would be the first time we have done this in Ledbury."

The idea was widely supported by town councillors at recent full town council meeting.

Merchant Navy Day is a relatively new commemoration to the national calendar, first taking place in 2000.

Its purpose is to "honour the brave men and women who kept our 'Island Nation' afloat during both World Wars, and to celebrate our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for 95 per cent of the UK's imports, including much of the food we eat, most of the fuel we burn and virtually all the products and goods we take for granted".

This year Seafarers UK is actively campaigning for the Red Ensign - the UK Merchant Navy's official flag - to be flown on Sunday September 3 on civic buildings and landmark flagpoles across the UK.

Around 15,000 merchant seamen lost their lives during the First World War, and more than 30,000 in the Second War War, many down to U-boat attacks.

The service in Ledbury will be held on Sunday September 3 at 2pm by the War Memorial in Ledbury High Street.

It will be led by the Reverend Bill Mackenzie, Chaplain to the Royal British Legion, Ledbury branch.