Soldiers from 39th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Welsh Gunners) exercised the honour of the Freedom of Hexham for the last time before it disbands early next year.
History was made when 39th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Welsh Gunners) exercised the honour of the Freedom of Hexham for the last time before it disbands early next year. The Welsh Gunners have been based at Albemarle Barracks, Harlow Hill, since 1995 and during that time strong connections have been built with the community, with nearly half of all personnel living in the local towns and cities.
The parade was a celebration not only of those close links with Hexham but also celebrating the end of a permanent commitment to operations in Cyprus, Iraq and Afghanistan. Led by the commanding officer, the regiment formed at Wentworth Leisure Centre car park before marching through the High Street to Hexham Abbey and presenting itself in front of the dais behind the Abbey for inspection by the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, Colonel Tony Glenton, the Mayor of Hexham and the Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, Brigadier Nick Clissitt.
This was followed by a short service in the Abbey, led by the Regiment’s Padre Major Christopher Groocock. After the service the Regiment marched back through the town.
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Clements, Commanding Officer of 39th Regiment Royal Artillery, said: “This parade celebrates the fantastic connection between the Regiment and the Town of Hexham. It is a mark of gratitude for the support provided by the Town and in particular the Council. It is a genuine privilege and honour to bear arms through the Town and hold a service of thanksgiving in the beautiful Abbey. “I am sure that the welcome afforded to this Regiment 20 years ago and since, will be received by 3rd Regiment Royal Artillery on their arrival in summer 2015. From all ranks of 39th Regiment Royal Artillery thank you for the support we have received and the privilege of marching through the Town.”
Next year the Regiment will leave approximately 250 personnel behind in Albemarle Barracks and they will be joined in late summer 2015 by 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery on their return from Germany.
Lieutenant Colonel Clements added: “3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery is very much looking forward to building a close connection with the local community and they will no doubt benefit from the huge welcome 39th Regiment Royal Artillery received and for which we are incredibly grateful.”
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