Foot Guards receive freedom of Birmingham

By on 21/03/2012 in News

Freedom of Birmingham for Foot GuardsHundreds of delighted Birmingham and Midlands residents watched as an extraordinary honour was bestowed on the Foot Guards by the City of Birmingham today (21 March), when they were granted the Freedom of the City.

In a very rare, if not unique distinction, all five Regiments of Foot Guards received the Freedom of the City which now entitles them to march through the City Centre with “drums beating, bayonets fixed and Colours flying”.

The Freedom of the City is being granted to the Foot Guards after a 2000-name petition was presented to Birmingham City Council last summer requesting the honour for one of the regiments, and councillors decided they wanted to grant all five regiments the freedom.

To celebrate this honour, a glittering Parade of some 230 Officers and Guardsmen from all five Regiments of Foot Guards marched through the City watched by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Anita Ward, and the Major General Commanding the Household Division and London District, Major General George Norton.

The Parade was led by the Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Ghika, as they marched through the City Centre bearing their Colours, accompanied by the Band of the Irish Guards led by Drum Major William Harvey.

Following the Parade the Guards were hosted to a civic reception by the Lord Mayor and the Council.

The Lord Mayor's son, Lance Sergeant Vince Hockley, currently serves with 1st Battalion Irish Guards in Aldershot and the Lord Mayor was delighted that he could join her in Birmingham for this special day. Having previously served in Afghanistan, he is now studying on a language course and hoping to return to operations in due course.

Reading out the Freedom Declaration to the Parade and the crowds of onlookers in Victoria Square, Cllr Ward said: “First and foremost, as Lord Mayor, this is a very proud day for me and the people of Birmingham. Honouring the Foot Guards with the freedom of the second city demonstrates our recognition of the commitment our young men and women make to the Armed Forces.

“As a mother this is a big day for me and my son's regiment, the Irish Guards. And because we are recognising all five regiments this is a truly family affair since my father, Phil Ward, served in the Coldstream Guards and is here to support them today. So taking all this into account and the fact that it is my son's 30th birthday today, I can't promise not to shed a tear.”

In a gracious response, Major General Norton said: “All Regiments of the Footguards are immensely grateful to the Lord Mayor and City of Birmingham for the honour they are conferring on us today, which reflects the long and close relationship that we have had with both the City and its community.”

Those on parade today were elements of: Nijmegen Company, Grenadier Guards, Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards, F Company Scots Guards, 1st Battalion Irish Guards and 1st Battalion Welsh Guards (most of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards have deployed to Afghanistan in just the past few days).

For images of the parade click here.

For BBC Midlands Today report on facebook click here.

For TNT News film on youtube click here.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1.    For further information, please contact in the first instance:

Belinda Steel, Media Operations 5th Division,  tel 01743 262341, mobile 07771 944780

Deborah Harries, Council Press Officer, tel 0121 303 4777, mobile 07825 979046

Or

Nigel Sargeant, Media Operations London District, tel 0207 414 2333

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Foot Guards (along with their Regimental Bands) comprise:

  • 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards (currently deployed to Afghanistan)
  • 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards
  • 1st Battalion Scots Guards
  • 1st Battalion Irish Guards
  • 1st Battalion Welsh Guards (currently deployed to Afghanistan)

ENDS

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