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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
The manly sound of baritone voices engulfed the church of St Nicholas in Dereham for the thanksgiving service for the safe return of the Light Dragoons from their tour of Afghanistan.
Around 350 troops packed into the church along with civic dignitaries, many wearing their chains of office, members of the Royal British Legion and a few family members following a memorable parade through the town.
After the presentation of the standards of the Royal British Legion and the Guidon, the regiment’s military flag, the service was opened by Rev Canon Sally Theakston who said how proud the town was to have the Light Dragoons at the Robertson Barracks at Swanton Morley. She also asked the congregation to remember those who had lost their lives or who had been injured in the pursuit of peace.
After a rousing rendition of Praise my soul the King of Heaven, Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson read a passage from Ecclesiastes:3 before the second hymn O God our Help in Ages Past.
Lt Col Sam Plant, the regiment’s commanding officer, read a passage from Ephesians:6 before the Rev Dr Allison, chaplain to the Light Dragoons, gave the address, saying it was not going to be a formal message, and then recalling an interview with two actors from the television show Dr Who.
“Amy Pond and Rory were saying how part of their life was fighting daleks, flying around in a police box and dodging explosions, and the other half was answering telephones, eating and making decisions on normal day-to-day activities,” he said. “It hit on a real truth that we in the Light Dragoons lead two lives.”
He said it was just as challenging for the soldiers coming home and adapting to a normal family routine as it was being in Afghanistan but that everyone at home and on tour had a role to play in bringing about peace and change.
“Because you were there girls have gone to school, people have grown up, schools and hospitals have been built, communities have been able to build themselves up. Peace has a chance because you were there.”
The congregation then sang a very moving hymn I Vow to Thee my Country before members of the local clergy led the prayers. During the final hymn, Now Thank we all our God, a collection was taken for the Light Dragoons charitable trust and the work of St Nicholas church.
The service closed with the return of the standards and the Guidon followed by the National Anthem.