The growing bond between Dereham and the Light Dragoons is set to be sealed with the soldiers being offered freedom of the town.

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The army regiment has been based at Robertson Barracks at nearby Swanton Morley for 12 years and the special friendship with local people has flourished.

Thousands of people are set to line the town’s streets on Wednesday December 5 for a homecoming parade following the regiment’s six-month tour of Afghanistan.

And town councillors are discussing reinforcing the depth of the links by awarding the symbolic honour.

Councillor Phillip Duigan came up with the idea of giving the Light Dragoons freedom of the town after hearing that Diss had done the same for the Royal Anglians.

Members will have to have a special meeting later this month to approve the idea and ensure the army is happy to accept.

But there was strong support at the full council meeting on Tuesday.

Mr Duigan said: “It would show that the people of Dereham appreciate the hard work and commitment the Light Dragoons have shown us. It would be a nice symbolic show of support and they have done a very good job on tour in Afghanistan.

“Most people in the town would like to show our appreciation in some way.”

If freedom status is granted, the Dragoons would be able to march through the town with their bayonets fixed – and Mr Duigan joked it could be a “double edged sword”.

Meanwhile, the town council and the EDP have joined forces to produce a giant Welcome Home banner which will go up under the town sign in the High Street for the parade.

The parade will start at 11am and around 350 members of the regiment will march on a route along Norwich Street, Cowper Road, Wellington Road, Market Place and Church Street to a service at St Nicholas’s Church. A flypast is planned by 31 Squadron from RAF Marham.

A website blog – www.lightdragoonsparade.com – has been set up with full details about the parade, route, car parking and road closures.

The EDP is fully supporting the parade and will be providing a wide range of information about the big day.

Anyone with questions can contact the event team at Breckland Council on 01362 656330 or email communications@breckland.gov.uk

ian.clarke@archant.co.uk

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