The people of Diss have been praised by the Royal Anglian Regiment for their “magnificent” support when soldiers paraded through the town last week.

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In a letter seen by the Mercury, Lt Col Kevin Hodgson, the regimental secretary, thanked Diss Town Council and the town’s residents on behalf of the regiment for the warm welcome given to the 150 troops when they received the Freedom of the town on Wednesday.

He said the soldiers’ lasting memory of a “truly great day” was the sight of an estimated nearly 8,000 wellwishers who thronged the parade route along Mere Street, Market Place and St Nicholas Street to cheer on the troops, who had returned from their fourth deployment in Afghanistan in October.

Wellwishers have also got the chance to get their hands on a commemorative pint glass, produced for the parade, which features the logos of the town council and the Regiment and the words “The Royal Anglian Regiment Diss Freedom of the Town Parade 7th November 2012.”

The momento was given to the Regiment’s members and civic dignatories, but there are at least 15 left and more on order, which can be bought for £3 from the council’s office in Market Hill or from the Diss Tourist Information Centre in Mere Street.

Proceeds from the sale of the pint glasses will go to the Royal Anglian Regiment Benevolent Charity set up to help serving and former members of the Regiment, which is already set to receive £982 raised by collectors lining the parade route on the day.

Diss Mayor Graham Minshull said: “We are really thrilled with the amount raised, which was collected in the space of an hour. People were incredibly generous.”

A commemorative stone has also been created by monumental masons H L Perfitt to sit amidst a flower bed outside the Co-Op in Mere Street, created especially for the Freedom parade.

The monument, bearing the Anglians’ logo, was particularly poignant for its creator James Hollington because his friend James Grigg lost his life while serving with the Royal Anglians in Afghanistan.

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