Troops and veterans march to mark St George’s Day

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IT MAY have been wet, but this didn’t stop hundreds of people lining the streets of Emsworth to pay tribute to serving troops and veterans at a St George’s Day parade.

The George Regis Jazz band played as the soldiers from 47 Regiment, based at Thorney Island, marched in front of the cheering, flag-waving crowds.

47 Regiment Royal Artillery parade through Emsworth to mark St George's Day    Picture: Allan Hutchings (121436-089)

47 Regiment Royal Artillery parade through Emsworth to mark St George's Day Picture: Allan Hutchings (121436-089)

Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Crisp, Commanding Officer of 47 Regiment, said: ‘It’s great for the regiment to be involved in the St George’s Day parade.

‘The community provides a huge amount of support particularly when we’re in Afghanistan.

‘47 Regiment has got about 200 people out there due to return in the next couple of weeks.

‘12 Regiment has also got people currently deployed.

Joseph Hayward, four, whose mum is serving in Afganistan  Picture: Steve Reid (121440-964)

Joseph Hayward, four, whose mum is serving in Afganistan Picture: Steve Reid (121440-964)

‘We try to give them as much support as we can while they are out there but the community’s support of their families here is just as important in maintaining their fighting spirit.’

Following the parade, the veterans were given the Emsworth Rose by Councillor Gerald Shimbart, the deputy mayor of Havant.

Margaret Hayward took along her four-year-old grandson Joseph, whose mother Nicky is a sergeant serving in Afghanistan.

Mrs Hayward said: ‘Nicky left in October and we all miss her so much. We’re counting down the days now.

‘Joseph definitely understands that his mum and dad do the same thing as these soldiers here. The children are used to their parents being away because their father Simon is a staff sergeant.

‘I thought it was a wonderful parade, very cheering.

‘They all looked so smart in their uniforms – it made me feel very patriotic and proud to British.’

Sidney Smith, a veteran of the Royal Signals, from Hayling Island, bore the standard for the Wessex Korean Veterans’ Association – a war which 47 Regiment has a long association with.

The 84-year-old was chosen to represent UK veterans at the 60th anniversary commemorations of the Korean War in 2010.

He said: ‘Sixty years ago I left a ravaged, war-torn country and it has changed beyond recognition.

‘The appreciation from the Koreans made the sacrifices worth it.

‘Everywhere we went, people kept on saying thank you to us. I’m very proud to be here today.’

There will be events all week in Emsworth and the chosen charity this year is the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund.

Organiser Brendan Gibb-Gray, said: ‘It’s a shame about the weather but we do hope people are generous.’