We must not forget the contribution of our armed forces, says a Greater Manchester MP on the day the 1st Battalion Mercian Regiment are awarded the Freedom of Tameside.
The Mercians took to the streets of Stalybridge this morning, marching through the town and into Dukinfield to receive the honour.
Jonathan Reynolds MP, who is also the Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces, hailed this fantastic opportunity to show our appreciation.
“The sacrifices they make should never be forgotten,” he said. “I know that people here in Stalybridge will always be on hand to show them their thanks.
“Tameside already has strong links with the men and women of the Mercian regiment, but I think it is great that we are now formally acknowledging that by bestowing this honour upon them.”
The battalion marched through Stalybridge town centre this morning and to the civic hall, where the salute was taken by Tameside’s Civic Mayor, Cllr Joe Kitchen.
At noon they set off for Dunkinfield town hall, where they formally received the Freedom of Tameside and Colonel Adrian Walton signed the roll of honorary freemen.
Cllr John Taylor, Deputy Leader of Tameside Council and a Dukinfield ward councillor, was immensely proud to welcome to troops into the borough.
“It’s only right that they are given the Freedom of Tameside,” he said.
“Through their descent from the old Cheshire Regiment they have given sterling service to our borough, and indeed our country, over many years.
“Also, let’s not forget that two Mercians with Tameside connections – Cpl Harvey Holmes and Lance Cpl Andrew Breeze gave their lives while serving in Afghanistan.”
Tameside residents took to Twitter over the weekend and this morning to offer the regiment their encouragement, including Colin Spencer, from Stalybridge.
He said: “Come & cheer the Mercian Regiment as they parade through Stalybridge on Monday at 11am. Bring your flags, show your support & cheer them on.”
And Mr Reynolds was also keeping his followers updated with his plans for the march and a busy day that followed.
He said: “A tight Monday morning – off to see the Mercians in Stalybridge at 11am then have to be sitting in Commons for 2.30pm to ask a Home Office question.”
Photo courtesy of @GMPDukinfield, with thanks.