SPONTANEOUS applause greeted soldiers of the Royal Anglian Regiment as they were granted the freedom of Harborough district.
Councillors, members of the public and special guests rose to their feet out of respect as Harborough District Council chairman Rosita Page presented the Honorary Freedom of the District to Colonel Julian Lacey, CBE, DL, Deputy Colonel of the regiment.
The presentation was made during a special ceremony held before Monday night’s meeting of full council.
The occasion was also attended by a number of civic dignitaries, including Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Lady Gretton, High Sheriff Col Robert Martin and Mrs Janie Martin, and the chair and consort of Leicestershire County Council.
The honour entitles the regiment to march through the streets of the district on ceremonial occasions with bayonets fixed, colours flying and bands playing.
After receiving the scroll, Colonel Lacey said the regiment may march in the district in October.
Cllr Page thanked the men and women of our armed services for their sacrifice.
The district council resolved at an extraordinary meeting held in February to confer the honour for the first time.
The Royal Anglians recruit from Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Major William O’Driscoll (retired) said: “It is a great honour that the district of Harborough has chosen the Royal Anglian Regiment to be awarded the Freedom of Harborough district.
“The Royal Anglian Regiment includes young men from the county who are serving with the Second Battalion as part of the Theatre Reinforcement Battalion in Cyprus , with some elements on 36 hours notice to deploy to Afghanistan.
“The Third Battalion a Territorial unit also has Leicestershire men in its ranks and has just deployed to Cyprus in support of the United Nations contingent that monitors the Buffer Zone in the north of the country.
“The granting of the freedom means that the Royal Anglian Regiment will in the future be able to march through Market Harborough with bands playing, bayonets fixed and colours flying, a very great honour indeed.”