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Freedom honour for RBL branch solidifies town's military links

The Royal British Legion marched through Woodbridge to launch the Poppy Appeal in 2014

The Royal British Legion marched through Woodbridge to launch the Poppy Appeal in 2014

Archant

Members of a Suffolk branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) have been awarded the freedom of their hometown.

The decision was made to grant the honour to the Woodbridge branch by the town council, which also chose to give the Royal Air Force the same privilege for one weekend of the year.

The town already celebrates its military links by allowing members of 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, based at nearby Rock Barracks, in Sutton, to exercise the ceremonial honour.

Woodbridge councillor, Clare Perkins put forward the idea on behalf of the RBL as a gesture of gratitude for the branch’s continuing work for the benefit of the town.

“They have done a great deal, and continue to do a great deal,” she said,

Deputy mayor, Lady Caroline Blois called the work of members had been “terrific”. She said granting the group freedom of the town would be “a lovely thing to do”.

Josh Sayles, Woodbridge mayor, said he thoroughly supported awarding the ‘badge of honour’ to the branch.

Two certificates will be drawn up to make the award official – one presented to the RBL, and the other hung on the wall of the council chamber at the Shire Hall on Market Hill.

A presentation is set to take place on June 11 to tie in with The Queen’s official birthday celebrations.

Subject to arrangement with the town clerk, the RBL will be able to exercise the right to march through the town.

Cliff Baldock, deputy parade marshall for Woodbridge RBL, said the branch was “over the moon” to be awarded the honour.

The town council also awarded the freedom of Woodbridge to the RAF. Following a nomination from Martlesham Heath Aviation Society, service personnel will have the right to march through the town on one weekend of the year.

In 2011, a community covenant was signed by the Ministry of Defence, Suffolk Coastal District Council, Woodbridge Town Council, Sutton Parish Council and The Royal British Legion, formalising the town’s support for soldiers based at Rock Barracks and giving access to funding for projects designed to strengthen bonds between the military and the public.

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