Fakenham races honours soldiers

The heat and dust of Helmand must truly have felt a world away.For yesterday, about 50 soldiers of the Light Dragoons and the 1st Battalion the Royal Anglians were guests of honour at Fakenham Racecourse in recognition of the sacrifices made by the armed forces.

The heat and dust of Helmand must truly have felt a world away.

For yesterday, about 50 soldiers of the Light Dragoons and the 1st Battalion the Royal Anglians were guests of honour at Fakenham Racecourse in recognition of the sacrifices made by the armed forces.

To mark the occasion, names of some of the afternoon's race titles were changed. These included the Welcome Home The Light Dragoons from Afghanistan Handicap Steeple Chase and the Fakenham - Proud to Support HM Forces Hurdle Race.

And between the races, the soldiers mingled with punters and chatted about their experiences in Afghanistan.


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Last night, David Hunter, clerk of the course, said he and his directors were delighted to have honoured the men.

“When I called for three cheers at the end of the meeting for our soldiers, a huge roar went up of support and solidarity from all the racegoers,” said Mr Hunter.

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And each soldier was given a free entry badge, a £3 food and drink voucher and £2 off their initial £5 bet with the Tote.

“At Fakenham we felt the time was right to publicly go on record and say thank-you to the armed forces for their dedication and courage whilst on active service in Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflict zones around the world,” said Mr Hunter.

“Here in Norfolk we have particularly close links with the Light Dragoons, whose barracks are only a few miles from the racecourse at Swanton Morley”.

The Light Dragoons and the Royal Anglians have been fighting side-by-side for the past year in Afghanistan in some of the most hostile and dangerous environments encountered by British servicemen and women since the second world war.

At the racecourse there were two armoured reconnaissance tanks and their crews in the paddock area and the soldiers were able to answer questions from the racing public.

Captain Tim Badhams said the soldiers were very conscious of the support the community had shown towards them

“The local area has been very keen to show how much they value the army's contribution, with their support for parades and services,” said Capt Badhams.

The race meeting also played host to two groups of younger racegoers.

About 30 pupils and some teachers from Litcham Primary School were at the racecourse on an educational day organised by the British Horseracing Standards and Education Trust.

The youngsters were given an insight into how racing works.

With only a couple of weeks until Christmas, there was a seasonal touch to the meeting, with 20 young members of the choir of Glebe House Preparatory School, Hunstanton, who entertained the crowds with three sessions of carol singing. Donations were invited for their efforts in the bitterly cold wind for the Injured Jockeys Fund.

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