December 9 2013 Latest news:
By Kathryn Cross
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
For the Light Dragoons today is the day they will thank the people of Dereham for their enduring support.
But for the thousands who are expected to line the streets of the town this morning at their Welcome Home parade it is an opportunity to thank the Swanton Morley-based troops for their courage and sacrifices they made on a daily basis during their last six-month tour of Afghanistan.
The 350 troops from the regiment will march at 11am through the town to St Nicholas church for a service of thanksgiving and then on to a reception at the Memorial Hall.
In their thoughts will undoubtedly be Sgt Lee Davidson, the one fatality from their last deployment, who was killed in Helmand Province on September 9.
Ian Monson, chairman of Norfolk County Council, said: “Today’s event was already being planned when Sgt Davidson was killed by a roadside bomb. Lee was from Doncaster, but as an adopted son of Norfolk we will remember him with sorrow, but also with pride.”
The parade will be made even more special by the presentation to the regiment of the Honorary Freedom of the Town.
Dereham Mayor Linda Monument said: “It will be a symbol to demonstrate just how much the people of the town recognise and appreciate the bravery of these men and women and the risks they take on our behalf,” she said.
Lt Col Sam Plant, the regiment’s commanding officer, will receive the honour on behalf of his troops. He said the Light Dragoons appreciated their close relationship with the town. “During a period of intense operational tempo, the support that we have received from the people of Dereham and the surrounding communities has been remarkable – it has really sustained us. We are so grateful and look forward to continuing to develop this great friendship in the future.”
* Buy the EDP tomorrow for extensive coverage of the parade with reports, pictures and video on the website www.edp24.co.uk.
* The special 32-page Welcome Home supplement, produced by the EDP’s sister paper The Dereham Times, is on sale at the EDP office in Dereham and at the Railway Tavern in Dereham. It is also being sold in the town today by air cadets from the 1249 (Dereham) squadron. We are asking for a minimum donation of £1.50 per copy.