Public invited to thank soldiers by attending Emsworth parade

PARADE Troops from Thorney Island based 47th Regiment Royal Artillery when they last marched through Havant. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (122243-6979)
PARADE Troops from Thorney Island based 47th Regiment Royal Artillery when they last marched through Havant. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (122243-6979)
Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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FOLLOWING a gruelling six-month deployment in Afghanistan, soldiers will be returning to a warm welcome.

58 Eyres Battery, part of 12 Regiment, Royal Artillery, based on Thorney Island, touched down in the UK on Friday and will be given their campaign medals in front of family, friends and well-wishers, in Emsworth Square tomorrow morning.

Councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray has worked with Warrant Officer Stephen Woolcombe to arrange the second public medal parade in the town.

The march will begin outside the Lord Raglan pub, in Queens Street, at 10.30am and finish next to the war memorial where the campaign medal and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal will be presented by Councillor Gerald Shimbart, Mayor of Havant.

WO Woolcombe said: ‘They deployed in support of 5 Regiment and have been operating cameras and surveillance equipment. They have been our eyes and ears for the battleground.

‘Emsworth is our local community and we don’t get to do as much community engagement as we’d like.

‘We want to be able to share our parade with family and friends who are travelling from all over the country and wanted to do it so the people of Emsworth can share in our pride as well.

‘The people here always rise to the occasion.

‘These sort of events don’t come up very often and we wanted to do it in public to get as much support as possible.’

From 10am there will be music and stalls in The Square.

Music will be provided by the Parachute Regiment Band as well as a local jazz band.

The soldiers will march a loop from the pub, through The Square, around the back of The Ship pub and back to The Square.

Cllr Gibb-Gray said: ‘Over the years we have been trying to encourage the two regiments at Thorney to hold their parades in public and they are prepared to do that.

‘It’s wonderful for both them and the community here in Emsworth.

‘It will be a chance for the public to say a big thank you to the guys and girls who have just returned from Afghanistan for what they have done out there.

‘We’re hoping there will be a lot of support from well-wishers.’