The King’s Royal Hussars paraded through Leyland town centre on Saturday in front of hundreds of cheering, applauding spectators – celebrating 25 years as honorary freemen of South Ribble.
The British Army regiment – which received the Freedom of the Borough in 1992 – assembled in formation at the council’s Civic Centre car park, as supporters waited at the roadside to mark a quarter of a century since the troops were first awarded the honour.
The Colonel of the King’s Royal Hussars, General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE – having arrived in spectacular fashion by helicopter – asked the Mayor of South Ribble, Councillor John Rainsbury, for permission to parade and exercise their Freedom of the Borough.
The Mayor granted them permission, before inspecting the soldiers himself.
Once the Mayor was satisfied, the soldiers – along with a marching band – left the Civic Centre and “stepped off” on parade.
The route took them from West Paddock, up to Lancastergate, Towngate and finally onto Hough Lane – where they went as far as the roundabout by McDonald’s – before heading back to the Civic Centre the same way; a total of two miles.
At the very end of the parade, the Mayor and the Colonel stood on a dais and took the salute from the regiment.
The Mayor of South Ribble, Councillor John Rainsbury, said: “It was an absolute joy and privilege to host the King’s Royal Hussars and their Colonel, General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE, in South Ribble at the weekend.
“The people of South Ribble turned out in their hundreds – lining the route, waving Union Flags, cheering, and applauding. It was an amazing spectacle to behold and everyone was filled with pride to witness the troops back in South Ribble. The regiment has traditionally recruited significant numbers from the Lancashire area which makes them extra special to us in South Ribble.
“Seeing them reunited with their families was a touching moment – and I just want to express my deepest gratitude to them and their loved ones for coming to Leyland at the weekend, so that we could all show our appreciation.
“We continue to follow the regiment’s progress with keen interest, and I wish them the very best until we next see them – a day we’re already looking forward to.”
At the reception held for the soldiers and their families in the Civic Centre after the parade, gifts were exchanged between the Mayor and the Colonel.
The Mayor gave the Colonel a handmade model of the borough’s war memorial in Lostock Hall – the model having been made by students at Lostock Hall Academy.
And the Colonel presented the Mayor with a framed commemorative painting.
General Sir Adrian Bradshaw KCB OBE – Colonel of the King’s Royal Hussars – said: “I want to take the opportunity to thank the Lord Lieutenant and the county of Lancashire for inviting the King’s Royal Hussars to exercise the freedom of Leyland today.
“It was a great honour. I know I speak for all the serving regiment and our families when I say your continued support and interest here is enormously appreciated.
“I’d like to also compliment the troops on parade: your turnout and quality of your drill – bearing in mind the regiment were in Canada on the prairie very recently doing drills – to get tidied up into that kit and put on that kind of show, was a very good show from them.
“Thank you to the Mayor and the council and everybody that’s been responsible for setting out such a wonderful occasion. We’ve been incredibly well looked after – it always happens whenever we come to Lancashire, and we’re always incredibly grateful.”
The King’s Royal Hussars are in a very exclusive club, as only seven other individuals have been granted honorary freedom of South Ribble. The last time the regiment paraded here was in 2015; before that, in 2012 and 2008.
The Hussars are based in Tidworth, Wiltshire, but recruit heavily from Lancashire.
They are set to join a NATO allied forces mission in Estonia in 2019.