Re-affirming the Freedom of Pembroke
Saturday 15th of September saw B (Rorke’s Drift) Company and the Regimental Band reaffirm The Royal Welsh’s Freedom of the town of Pembroke. After some hours on the parade square in Tidworth blowing off the cobwebs, we travelled to west Wales on the Friday and stayed overnight in Castlemartin, taking the opportunity in the evening to enjoy a drink together as a Company (and have a bit of a laugh hiding items of each other’s uniform)! On the Saturday morning, we met-up with the Goat Major and Fusilier Llywelyn (the Battalion’s goat), the Regimental Band, elements of the Comrades Society and several Pembrokeshire Sea Cadets.
Emerging from the Town Hall to a very generous reception, we formed-up outside ready for the Battalion’s Colours to be marched onto parade. The band then sprung into action and with a swift left turn, the parade negotiated cobblestones and tight arches on its way into the magnificent Pembroke Castle, where it awaited the arrival of the dignitaries. The parade was inspected by the Mayor of Pembroke, Mrs Linda Brown; Colonel Huw James, representing the Colonel of the Regiment; as well as the Lord Lieutenant and local Armed Forces Champion. The Mayor enjoyed a long chat with local boys such as brothers Lance Corporal and Fusilier Hilmer-Hills and the whole day proved a special opportunity for the regular Army soldiers in particular to connect with their communities, with many family members among the spectators.
Having passed the inspection, the Mayor gave thanks for the continued relationship between Pembroke and the Royal Welsh and Colonel James responded, recognising the great support the region gives to our soldiers. The Vicar of the local St. Mary’s Church read the Regimental Collect of The Royal Welsh and the band played the National Anthems, before Major Willcox asked for permission to “exercise the Freedom of Pembroke and march through the town with Colours flying, bayonets fixed and drums beating”.
Thankfully the Mayor said yes and, before she had a chance to change her mind, we marched back out of the castle and along Main Street, in front of several hundred more spectators who had kindly given up their Saturday morning to support their local Regiment. We wheeled back around and then saluted the dignitaries at the Chainback before halting back at the Town Hall. After the parade Fusilier Llywelyn and the Colour Party posed for photographs with soldiers’ families and members of the public, before all being invited into the Town Hall for shepherd’s pie and a well-earned beer.
Throughout the day, members of B (Rorke’s Drift) Company also collected and engaged on behalf of the local VC Gallery, which does great work in Pembrokeshire both supporting veterans through the medium of art and in raising awareness of the Armed Forces more generally. Overall, we were given a very warm welcome in Pembroke and are grateful to the teams from the Town Hall, castle and police for doing all the hard work which allowed us to have such a great day out, strutting our stuff in west Wales.
Thank you Pembroke!