Why these Norfolk children will be cheering for their dads . . .
PUBLISHED: 13:25 28 November 2012 | UPDATED: 08:32 30 November 2012
There are hundreds of children expected to line the route of the Light Dragoons Welcome Home parade through Dereham next week but one school has more reason than most to look forward to the event.
Almost half the pupils at Swanton Morley Primary have a parent in the regiment, based in the town’s Robertson Barracks, and excitement at seeing them on parade next Wednesday is soaring.
Union flags and hats were arriving earlier this week in box loads for them to wave and wear for the event with the whole school planning to join in the celebration.
Headteacher Richard Lord said their school probably had the strongest links with the military in the county which made it a very special place.
“We have a fantastic staff here who get to know the children and their families really well while they are with us,” he said.
“The children do need support at certain times and you can’t always predict which ones they will be. The run-up to a deployment is often the hardest but once the dads have gone and the children are back into a routine they cope remarkably well.
“It can be hard if they hear something on the news and some of the children’s dads have been in near misses but we learn how to deal with it all.
“They are so excited about the parade – it is a big deal for them. It is fantastic that we can go as a whole school because we all feel very much part of the barracks and the children are very good at supporting each other.”
Seven-year-old Isabel Harvey said she was “a little bit worried” about her dad when he was away but had another reason to be excited when he came home. “We got a cat called Fred which was a surprise for him,” she said.
Jake Dean, eight, said it was his dad’s first time in Afghanistan. “He said he was very frightened. I missed his bedtime stories and playing light sabres with him.”
Eight-year-old Bailey Pearce said his dad broke his leg while on deployment. “He was on the news but he didn’t have to come home early. My dad is great because he takes me go-carting and to football and to see racing cars.”
Brooke Ford, also eight, said she had kept in touch with her dad by email and telephone. “I am glad he is back now, it scares me when he is away.”
* The parade will see some 350 troops march through Dereham from 11am on Wednesday, December 5 with a flypast by 31 Squadron from RAF Marham followed by a service at St Nicholas Church and a reception at the Memorial Hall.
* A special 32-page supplement will be available from the EDP office in Dereham all next week featuring tributes, stories and some stunning pictures taken by the soldiers themselves in Afghanistan.
* For more information visit the website www.lightdragoonsparade.com.