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More than 200 troops set to parade through Andover for Test Valley Freedom March

Local residents and visitors are invited to attend a Test Valley Freedom March in Andover on Sunday 3 July 2016, involving the three military regiments granted freedom of the borough.

Local residents and visitors are invited to attend a Test Valley Freedom March in Andover on Sunday 3 July 2016, involving the three military regiments granted freedom of the borough.

More than 200 service personnel from the 22 Engineer Regiment, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the Army Air Corps will march through the town in a spectacular display of ceremony and tradition, led by the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regimental Band.

The march will begin at approximately 12.45pm at Town Mills Car Park before travelling through the town towards Eastern Avenue, where the troops will salute the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire and the Mayor of Test Valley. The march will then proceed to St Mary’s Church for a commemoration service at approximately 1.30pm, to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. A flypast by the Army Air Corps will take place at the start of the memorial service.

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Ian Carr, said: “The parade will be a wonderful opportunity for families, friends and local residents to come together to celebrate the regiments granted freedom of the borough, as well as the wider Armed Forces. This will be a day of celebration but also reflection, as we remember those who fought in the Battle of the Somme.

“Test Valley has close links with military and the Council signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant in 2012 to further cement its support for local military personnel and their families. I hope as many people as possible come along to watch the parade.”

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel AFJ Betts, 3 Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, added: “As the local Infantry Regiment in Hampshire, The 3rd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (The TIGERS) are hugely honoured to be exercising the freedom of Test Valley on Sunday 3 July 2016. The Regiment traces its heritage in the county back through the Royal Hampshire Regiment to 1702. As TIGERS we are immensely proud of this long standing connection with Hampshire and to the town of Andover in particular. We are delighted to have been given this very special privilege to conduct this Freedom Parade. As the country faces up to the many security challenges of today, it is vitally important that both Regular and Reserve soldiers get the chance to be seen and to connect with the communities that they serve. Just prior to the Battalion deploying on its Annual Training Exercise to Estonia in August, this parade gives us as TIGERS the opportunity to reinforce the close links we enjoy with the local community, and to reinforce the close friendship we have with the town of Andover.”

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel DJ Bickers MBE RE, 22 Engineer Regiment, said: “It is a great honour for 22 Engineer Regiment to exercise its freedom of Test Valley by marching through the town. It is particularly apt to be doing this in 2016, the year in which the Corps of Royal Engineers celebrates the tercentenary anniversary of King George I placing the Engineers and Artillery on separate establishments. Throughout its 300 year history the Royal Engineers has enjoyed the loyal support of the towns and cities in which we are based, and this is certainly the case with Andover today. Every man and woman marching will feel the very special bond which exists between 22 Engineer Regiment and the people of Andover.”

Commandant, Army Aviation Centre Colonel Jon Bryant, commented: “As a military organisation, the granting of freedom by any borough council is never understated. We recognise that this is the highest honour a local community can bestow and are honoured to have been granted this accolade on the 25 September 1987 – the modern Army Air Corps’ 30th year. For the military community of Middle Wallop, past and present, the right to exercise our freedom continues to cement the historic ties and long, trusting friendship with the town of Andover and the wider borough of Test Valley. Several of our serving and veteran personnel have been so taken by this region, they have set down their roots in local communities to call ‘home’. Today, we are months away from celebrating our 60th year of modern army aviation, forming on the 1 September 1957. Long may this bond continue.”

The freedom of the borough is the highest award that the Council can bestow. Those granted the freedom are able to march through the streets “with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing”.

Rolling road closures will be in place during the march. Information about the closures, including which roads will be affected, will be published nearer the time.