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Parade celebrates links between Woodbridge and 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment

Crowds gathered to cheer on the 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment as they paraded through Woodbridge, excercising the right to freedom of the town.

Crowds gathered to cheer on the 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment as they paraded through Woodbridge, excercising the right to freedom of the town.

Sarah Lucy brown

A lasting bond between soldiers and civilians was honoured with a military parade through the streets of a Suffolk town.

Woodbridge celebrated its close links with serving army engineers by granting them freedom to march across town.

Members of 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, based at nearby Rock Barracks, in Sutton, exercised the ceremonial honour by parading from Burkitt Road, with the mayor taking the salute outside the Shire Hall as troops marched along Market Hill towards New Street and St John’s Street, then onto the Thoroughfare, Quay Street and Station Road, finishing in the car park by the swimming pool.

In the evening, the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas gave a free concert in Elmhurst Park.

Woodbridge has a long history of supporting soldiers based nearby.

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.

The freedom parade has become a tradition for Woodbridge and members of the regiment, which recently changed its name from 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) to better reflect its role and heritage.

Troops recently returned from their first exercise under the 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment name.

Exercise Eagle Sapper saw them provide close combat engineering to 16 Air Assault Brigade at Salisbury Plain.

Commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel John Clark MBE said: “As a regiment, we hugely value the long-standing support we receive from Woodbridge.

“A fantastic crowd came out to watch the parade and we take great heart from the support that represents.”

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