BRITISH patriotism will go on full display next week as soldiers lead a major parade to mark St George’s Day.
Hundreds of people are expected to pack into Emsworth town centre to witness the popular military procession on Tuesday morning.
About 50 soldiers from 20 (HQ) Battery 16 Regiment Royal artillery, based on Thorney Island, will lead the march.
They will be followed by about 60 veterans from conflicts spanning the Second World War, to Borneo, Malaya, Korea and more recently those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dozens of children from Thorney Island and Emsworth primary schools will also take part in the parade, which will set off from Queen Street at 10.30am before making its way into High Street, with the bulk of the ceremony being held in St Peter’s Square.
Charlie McIntosh, a retired Staff Sergeant who served 28 years in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, is the commander of the veteran contingent and is excited.
He said: ‘Days like today mean so much, it’s like a big “thank you”.
‘We have all done our bit and paid our blank cheque to Queen and country, up to and including death in some cases.
‘So it is a nice warm feeling to get that “thank you” from the crowds and the people of Emsworth.’
The parade will loop around the centre of Emsworth before coming back to High Street where it will halt.
16 Regiment’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Colton, and Havant mayor, Councillor Peter Wade, will address the party.
The pair will then present the symbolic Emsworth Rose to troops and before the National Anthem is played.
Councillor Lulu Bowerman, event organiser, said: ‘I’m a naval daughter and I’m incredibly proud of our community who always come out to support our parade.
‘This is very much a day for all ages in the community to come out and remember those who have served our nation.’
This is the 11th year the town has staged it’s St George’s Day spectacle, with last year’s being one of the biggest on record.
Korean War veteran Norman Davies, who was a former Warrant Officer with the Royal Signals, used to lead the parade’s contingent of retired troops.
Having stepped down from the role, the 87-year-old is now urging as many people from Emsworth and the surrounding areas to line the streets to show their support.
He added: ‘To have that support means everything to us. Emsworth isn’t a city or even a large town but to see how it’s grown during its first 10 years to become one of the area’s most popular St George’s Day parades, is just unbelievable.’
‘I’m really looking forward to this year,’ he added.
Roads surrounding the centre of Emsworth and the parade routes will be closed from 10am until after the march concludes, at about 11.30am.