Prime Minister’s personal tribute to Light Dragoons
The prime Minister paid personal tribute to the Light Dragoons – and the people of Dereham – on the day an estimated 6,000 grateful Norfolk residents welcomed the regiment back from its gruelling six-month tour of Afghanistan.
In a letter to commanding officer Lt Col Sam Plant and dated December 5, David Cameron reiterated his condolences to the family and loved ones of Sgt Lee Davidson, who was killed in September.
He said: 'I can understand that the parade will be a particularly poignant event for them, but I hope that they can take some comfort that his efforts will not be in vain, and his sacrifice will not be forgotten.
'It is also important to remember those who have suffered injury during this tour, and I hope that their rehabilitation enables them to recover as fully as possible.
'I hope that both you and the regiment, as a whole, can look back on this deployment with a great deal of pride. Your efforts in denying explosives and associated equipment to the insurgency has been a significant factor in assisting with the ongoing transition to the Afghan National Security Forces.'
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In a separate letter to Breckland Council, Mr Cameron praised the residents of the district for supporting the Swanton Morley-based troops.
He said: 'I want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Breckland. Your support of the Light Dragoons is important at all times, but especially when they are away on deployment. As a nation we ask a great deal of our armed forces, and the role of local communities in supporting those who are being deployed and the families they leave behind cannot be overstated.'
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The prime minister's wish that 'the almost constant rain can keep off for one day' was fulfilled, and Wednesday's snow also delayed its entrance until mid-afternoon.
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, who was unable to attend the parade because of parliamentary business, also wrote to Lt Col Plant.
He said: 'We are privileged in mid Norfolk to be home to the Light Dragoons and I know how deeply proud the people of mid Norfolk are of the regiment.
'The Dragoons' courage and professionalism in the recent tours of Helmand is a testament not only to this regiment, but to the British armed forces as a whole. At your homecoming parade in Dereham on December 5, I am sure the full extent of the local community's support and pride in the connection with the Dragoons will be evident to you all.'
Lt Col Sam Plant, commanding officer of the Light Dragoons, said: 'It was not something I was expecting to receive, but it was very exciting to receive it. It is just another thing that demonstrates the high regard that the forces are held in. For the Prime Minister to take the time to write and wish us a really happy home coming parade in Dereham was really amazing. It was a very moving thing.'