Hundreds of people showed their support for soldiers from 14 Regiment Royal Artillery who took part in the Freedom of Trowbridge Parade at today’s Wiltshire Armed Forces and Veterans Weekend.
The Freedom of the Town grants the Royal Regiment of Artillery, the right to exercise the grant of such an award by parading through the Town of Trowbridge with their Colours displayed, represented by their field guns, drums beating and bayonets fixed.
Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Paul Bates led the 72 soldiers, joined by the Band of the Royal Artillery and a section of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
“The soldiers are very proud with their association with Wiltshire and it is a great opportunity to make the link stronger with the local community,” said Lieutenant Colonel Bates.
“The relationship that the Armed Forces has with the public is just fantastic at the moment, so this event allows us to meet the public and say thank you for their support and everything they have done over the last ten or fifteen years while we have been campaigning.”
It is the first time the honour of the Freedom of the Town of Trowbridge has been given to the Royal Regiment of Artillery, and recognises the service the regiment, which was stationed in Trowbridge during the Second World War and used Holy Trinity as its garrison church, has given to the town.
The salute was taken by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Wiltshire Mrs Sarah Troughton CStJ, the representative of the Master Gunner St James’s Park Major General Kevin Abraham CB, and the Mayor of Trowbridge Glyn Bridges.
Bombardiers Hannah Thomas and Katie Stock paraded through the town and said: “The crowds were clapping and it was quite overwhelming.
“It is important to build a relationship with the local community and this gives people the confidence that we care about people and they respect us.
Sergeant Jonathan Colvan said: “The public support the military, what we do and what we have to offer.
“I have done quite a few parades before and it gives you a lot of self pride; showing off the uniform and guns and being able to meet and link with the public.”
“I will be enjoying the day and working with the lads, meeting the public, sharing stories, and meeting some of the older boys from World War Two.”
Cllr Bridges said the event was getting better every year.
“It has been really superb and a wonderful day for the town as a whole,” he said. “It is really well supported and the military appreciate that support.
“It is a wonderful privilege and honour for me to do the job of presenting the freedom and it has made it a special day.”
Entertainment is provided by Warminster Military Wives Choir, Wiltshire Youth Marching Band, Field Gun Run and 1940s roadshow to name a few.
Today and tomorrow will be rounded off with a parade of serving members of the forces, veterans and cadets through the town, before a traditional military drumhead service in the park.
The commemorations, which are held annually to celebrate and remember the veterans and serving members of the armed forces, include a bomb disposal demonstration, a weapons display and skirmish re-enactment, and a walkthrough timeline showing the evolution of the military soldier from the First World War to present day.