Monument to Royal Anglians will be unveiled at Norfolk parade tomorrow
With just one day to go until the Royal Anglian Regiment receives the Freedom of a Norfolk town, workmen were busy putting the finishing touches to a lasting monument to the troops.
Up to 150 soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment (the Vikings) are set to march through Diss tomorrow and one of the first sights the returning troops will get to view is a flower bed and stone in their honour outside the Co-Op store in Mere Street.
Staff from Diss Town Council have been busy creating the flower bed, which will have a sign saying Welcome to Diss and the stone monument.
The words on the monument read: 'To commemorate the awarding of the Freedom of Diss to the Royal Anglian Regiment in the Diamond Jubilee year of HM Queen Elizabeth II.'
Messages of support have been flooding in for the regiment, which returned from its latest six month deployment in Afghanistan in October.
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A message wall set up by Diss Town Council in an empty shop window at the start of the parade route at the junction of Mere Street and Victoria Road is displaying nearly 100 messages, many of them from local schoolchildren.
The heartwarming tributes include numerous messages from school pupils thanking the soldiers for keeping the UK safe and wishing them an enjoyable reunion with their families.
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The wall has been located at the start of the parade route so the soldiers can read the messages while they are waiting for the procession to begin.
Yesterday, the Vikings marched through the streets of Ipswich town centre with their banners held high for the first of their five homecoming parades.
Crowds, families and friends lined the streets to honour and pay tribute to the servicemen and women, who began their procession in Westgate Street before marching along Tavern Street, Upper Brook Street, and along Butter Market.
The main salute was taken by Ipswich mayor Mary Blake on the Cornhill. Members of the Suffolk & Royal Anglian Regiments Association together with branches of the British Korean Veterans Association, Suez Veterans Association, the Royal Navy Association and the Royal British Legion also took part.
Last week, dignitaries including the High Sheriff of Norfolk Henry Cator and the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson, MPs Richard Bacon and Chloe Smith and council leaders Derrick Murphy and John Fuller called on the public to support the Vikings on their Diss parade.
The procession will head up Mere Street to the Market Place from 12.30pm where there will be an inspection and the mayor Graham Minshull will give a welcoming speech, before Canon Tony Billett, Rector of Diss, will read a blessing.
The troops will then file into the Corn Hall for a civic reception with a host of dignitaries including MP Richard Bacon and the High Sheriff and Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk.