Dragoon homecoming: So proud to be part of the parade
PUBLISHED: 11:11 05 December 2012 | UPDATED: 13:09 05 December 2012
Lt Col Sam Plant, the commanding officer of the Light Dragoons, has spoken of the “absolutely amazing” support he and his regiment receive from the town of Dereham and the surrounding area, ahead of their Welcome Home parade through the town today.
“The parade means the world to us,” he said as the regiment prepared to form up on Norwich Street. “When we go away on operations we are strengthened by knowing that we live in such a special place. For me today and for us as a regiment it is an opportunity to offer our thanks to the brilliant people of Dereham and we acknowledge all that they do for us.”
He said he was also “immensely grateful” that people wanted to come out in their thousands to show their support for the troops.
“It makes it such a special occasion and we must never take for granted the support we have from the local community.”
While the Light Dragoons was a northern regiment and mainly recruited from the north, he said, Norfolk felt very much like home, where their children went to school and where their families were supported during the long months while they were on deployment.
“The support sustains us because it helps make the harder things we do make sense.”
He also spoke of the difference he felt they were making in Afghanistan and the progress that had been made over the past six months, with the long term goal of removing all British forces from the country a real possibility.
“The Afghan national security forces have come on in leaps and bounds, they are taking the lead more and moving the pace of operations and taking responsibility for security with us taking more of a supporting role.”
He added that Sgt Lee Davidson, who was killed on September 9 by a roadside bomb, was in all their thoughts as were all those Light Dragoons who had lost their lives on previous deployments.
“They are at the forefront of our thoughts and at our thanksgiving service at the church today we will reflect on the human cost of the war in Afghanistan.”
Sgt Davidson’s family are not attending the parade today but Lt Col Plant said they were pleased to announce that his widow Samantha had given birth to their daughter, who has been named Amelia, and they were doing “really well” in what was a very emotional time.
“The regiment is here to support her and the family in every way we can for as long as is required,” he added.