Freedom of the town honour to be granted to 500 Royal Marines
PUBLISHED: 09:00 11 June 2014
FIVE hundred Royal Marines will parade through Weston in a spectacular event later this month, before being granted the freedom of the town in an honour last bestowed in the 1960s.
Thousands of people are expected to line the streets to welcome troops from Taunton-based 40 Commando on June 21.
A full military procession led by the Royal Marines Band will pass through Regent Street and loop around the seafront, watched by dignitaries including Lord Lieutenant of Somerset Lady Gass and Brigadier Dunham, Deputy Commandant General of the Royal Marines.
The event – a prestigious curtain-raiser for further Armed Forces Day celebrations – will then see mayor Roz Willis hand commanding officers a ceremonial scroll confirming the freedom award.
Cllr Willis said: “This is a remarkable event for Weston to be part of and a wonderful way to say thank you to our serving troops.
“Each unit of the armed forces is only able to accept the freedom of two areas, so it’s a great honour that 40 Commando has accepted the freedom of Weston.
“I urge everyone to join us in town on June 21 for this extraordinary and spectacular occasion.”
Freedom of the town is a privilege with its roots in medieval times; though ceremonial rather than practical in the modern day, it is considered a substantial honour.
Lt Col Alex Janzen, 40 Commando’s commanding officer, said: “40 Commando has always enjoyed a strong relationship with Weston and it will be a great honour to be awarded the freedom of the town to further cement that relationship.
“Many of the unit’s marines come from the local area so it will be a very special and proud day; we hope people will come and support us, as they have done over the years.”
Town council clerk Malcolm Nicholson, who will be reading the freedom scroll, said: “I’m pleased to be involved in such a memorable event for the town.
“This is the first time that the freedom has been granted in Weston since 1969 so it really will be a very special occasion. With the Royal Marines Band playing, I’m also confident that it will be a very enjoyable one.”
The parade will begin at 10.30am in Regent Street, with the formal ceremony set to take place at Princess Royal Square at 11am.