Troops in Sheffield back public calls to make freedom parade an annual event

Soldiers from the 106 Field Squadron Royal Engineers line up ahead of their parade through Sheffield city centre
Soldiers from the 106 Field Squadron Royal Engineers line up ahead of their parade through Sheffield city centre
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Troops who paraded through Sheffield on Saturday have backed public calls for more military marches in the city.

Soldiers received a rousing reception when they strode through the city centre, with many people stopping to applaud as they passed.

It was the first time in 15 years that the 106 Field Squadron Royal Engineers, based at Bailey Barracks in Greenhill, had exercised its freedom of the city.

Although those who witnessed the parade were largely supportive, many who missed out said it should have been better publicised and called for it to be made an annual event so they could pay tribute to troops in future.

The squadron said it was delighted with the public response and would love to parade more often through its home city.

But it added that the four other military units given the freedom of Sheffield should also get the opportunity.

Nigel Hogg, the squadron's administration officer, said: "We thought the parade went very well. We were really looked after by the council and the public reaction was great.

"The soldiers are very proud to parade through their home city and interact with members of the public.

"My suggestion is that the freedom parade is made an annual event, and we do it on rotation with the other units."

The other units granted the freedom of Sheffield are:

* First Regiment of the Royal Horse Artillery, better known as the Chestnut Troop
* 38th Signal Regiment Volunteers
* 212 Yorkshire Field Hospital
* Yorkshire Regiment

The Duke of Wellington's Regiment was also granted the honour before it was amalgamated into the Yorkshire Regiment, and HMS Sheffield received the privilege before being decommissioned.

The freedom of Sheffield is a ceremonial title but gives recipients the right to march through the city with bayonets fixed, bands playing and colours flying.

A spokesman for Sheffield Council said: "We are pleased that the Freedom Parade was so well received by members of the public.

"Sheffield has a brilliant events calendar throughout the year – from festivals to outdoor events – and this event takes pride of place among them.

"It would be for the military to decide if they wanted to exercise their right for a further freedom parade."

Asked why the event had not been better publicised, he added: "The Lord Mayor's diary is sent to all local media and publicised internally. We now look forward to Armed Forces Day on June 17, Yorkshire Day on August 1 and a Victoria Cross ceremony later that month and are sure these events will enjoy a similar turnout."