Royal Navy sailors help mark 40th anniversary of independence in St Vincent and the Grenadines

Royal Navy sailors take part in St Vincent and the Grenadines 40th Independence parade yesterday. Picture: LPhot Paul Halliwell/MoD
Royal Navy sailors take part in St Vincent and the Grenadines 40th Independence parade yesterday. Picture: LPhot Paul Halliwell/MoD
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A TEAM of Royal Navy sailors took part in the 40th anniversary celebrations of their homeland – St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Twenty personnel participated in a parade through the capital Kingstown, ending in Victoria Park, to mark 40 years of the island’s independence.

Wearing their Royal Navy tropical uniforms, the team, who all volunteered to take part in the event, lined up to be inspected by the Governor of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Susan Dougan, before parading past the prime minister Ralph Gonsalves.

‘Today we have seen a dream come true,’ said Captain David Wilkinson, of the Naval Service Commonwealth Network.

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‘Ratings from St Vincent wanted to march through the streets of St Vincent in uniform celebrating their country’s independence, showing their community and families how they proud they are to be in the Royal Navy and how we, as a service, are equally proud of our relationship with this wonderful island.’

Among the team was Leading Medical Assistant Assistant Gideon Crichton and his cousin, AB Rory Crichton.

‘Growing up I was never involved in the independence parade,’ said Gideon.

‘I sailed past St Vincent once, when I was on Mounts Bay. I was less than 15 miles from home and I could see the lights of my house in the distance. It’s so good to be back home in uniform.’

Leading Hand Highwell King-John said: ‘This means a lot to me. I hope to inspire other Vincentians, as we are affectionately known, to pursue their dreams and aspire to be the best they can be.’

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Lt Col Anton Gash, the UK’s Defence Attaché for the Caribbean, added: ‘BZ [Well done] to all. The trip complements the establishment of the new office of a new resident British Commissioner to St Vincent and the Grenadines, which is a sign of renewed UK focus in the east Caribbean.’

The trip was made possible thanks to funding from the Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity.

During their visit to the islands, the RN team carried out a number of engagements with schools and colleges, as well as spending precious time with their families.

The former British colony, which comprises 32 islands, was the last of the Caribbean’s Windward Islands to gain independence.