Exclusive picture gallery: Hundreds show support for Rifles as they march in Stratford
Newham’s only army battalion was honoured in Stratford on Saturday in recognition of its dedicated service to the country.
Hundreds of people, including Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales and Newham Council Chief Executive Kim Bromley-Derry, showed their support for G Company 7 Rifles.
The territorials, who come mainly from East Ham and Stratford, were awarded the freedom of the borough in a ceremony which started at Stratford Park and ended at the town hall.
Newham Council conferred the honour on the battalion in February last year but were unable to present it because most were still serving in Afghanistan.
Major General Greg Smith inspected the parade before Sir Robin Wales presented a casket containing an illuminated copy of the resolution. The major general then presented the mayor with a silver bugle, the symbol of the rifles.
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A spokesman for the unit said they were grateful for the fulsome support enjoyed during the parade.
She said: “Knowing that the British public are on their side and showing their support is of enormous help to everyone.
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“As reservists, they give up many weeks a year of their time and are often doing other jobs at the same time.”
The battalion’s next overseas posting will take place next year but in the mean time, they will be mobilised for security and ceremonial duties at the Olympics.
They were joined on Saturday’s parade by the regiment’s Waterloo Band and Bugles.
Sir Robin Wales said: “The freedom of the borough is the highest distinction we can bestow.
“I am proud, on behalf of Newham residents, to honour the 7 Rifles, who have earned a special place in the hearts of Newham people for their bravery, commitment and sacrifice.
“In Newham we want to recognise the contribution of service personnel; through prioritising social housing for local servicemen and women and helping them to find work when they leave the armed forces.
“In presenting this award we recognise not only sacrifices of regiment members but also the major contribution their families have made for the safety and security of our country.
“The fact they deal with it with such honestly and openness fills me with admiration for how well they manage to fit back in with normal everyday life.”