SOLDIERS returning from a six-month tour in Afghanistan collected their medals during a freedom march in Chichester.
Members of 21 Air Assault Battery, from 47 Regiment Royal Artillery, based at Thorney Island, exercised their freedom of the city to receive their honours having returned from Afghanistan in May.
It was a proud day for the soldiers, some of whom were receiving their first medals, and for their families, who had travelled from all over the country to be at the parade.
They were joined by a large number of veterans from the Chichester branch of the parachute regiment.
The Mayor of Chichester, Tony French, handed out the medals with the help of Major General Shaun Burley MBE, and Colonel Sir Brian Bartellot OBE.
Helen Clarke travelled from Liverpool with her family to watch her son, Gunner Georgie Clarke, in the parade. ‘I’m so proud for all of them – every single one of them,’ she said.
‘I was really nervous for them. He’s proud to get his first medal from his first tour. It’s not just about Georgie. We are here for all of them, they are all heroes.’
Gunner Clarke, 20, said: ‘We have been practising every single day.
‘To get my first medal is the best thing I have ever done in the Army.
‘It means a lot to get that support, with everybody celebrating and cheering you on, it makes you proud.’
Major Matt White, the regiment’s second in command, said: ‘It doesn’t matter whether we are in Emsworth, Portsmouth, Havant or in Chichester, we always feel that we are made welcome, and very well supported.
‘I thought it went really well, the lads looked good and the whole thing went smoothly. It’s great to see the support from the local community, it’s quite humbling.’