HUNDREDS of shoppers cheered as the Coldstream Guards brought Doncaster town centre to a standstill with a colourful military parade.
The 2nd Battalion were given a heroes’ welcome as they marched past Mansion House, resplendent in scarlet tunics and black bearskin hats.
Shoppers craned their necks for a better view and captured the marchpast by more than 150 guardsmen on cameras and mobile phones, as the parade snaked its way around the town centre before a service at Doncaster Minster.
The parade was held ahead of the Laying Up Of Colours service at the church, where the regiment’s flag was presented to the Reverend Canon Paul Shackerley and the Bishop of Doncaster, the Right Reverend Peter Burrows.
Crowds young and old braved the cold and blustery weather as servicemen gathered at Sir Nigel Gresley Square for the march.
The parade headed down Wood Street and Cleveland Street before turning onto High Street, where Mayor Peter Davies and civic mayor Coun Chris Mills took the salute from the steps of the Mansion House, along with other civic dignitaries.
Police cordoned off roads as dozens of former soldiers, proudly displaying medals and regimental ties, walked behind the parade, accompanied by toddlers playfully mimicking the Guards’ marching and singing along to a selection of military and brass band music.
Shopper Delia Collins, of Woodlands, said: “They looked absolutely fantastic.
“I think we should all support our soldiers because they do a marvellous job. I am so pleased so many people came out to see them.”
Bystander Mick Daley, of Balby, said: “Doncaster should really celebrate things like this. The lads have done us proud and I wouldn’t have missed the parade for anything.
“It was quite cold standing at the side of the road waiting for them, but they looked and sounded brilliant when they came past and it was good so many people were there to see it.”
The minster was chosen to be the custodian of the regiment’s former flag after being presented with new colours by the Queen this year in recognition of Doncaster’s history as a recruiting ground for the Guards.
The church was packed for the public service which included music from The Band Of The Coldstream Guards, with hymns including To Be A Pilgrim, Greater Love and the National Anthem.
Mr Shackerley said: “We are gathered together in this minster to lay up the colours of the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards.
“This is a fitting holy place to lay down these emblems of duty and service.
“May all who look upon them be reminded of their duty to their God, their Queen and their country.”
In the evening, the band performed at the Doncaster School for the Deaf in aid of Doncaster cancer support organisation Firefly and the Army Benevolent Fund.