FINAL details have been announced of the ceremony and route when Hartlepool welcomes soldiers of 3rd Battalion The Rifles as they march through the town.
The locally-recruited regiment and its reservists are exercising their right to parade as part of the Freedom of the Borough which the regiment was granted by Hartlepool Borough Council last September. The regiment is following in the footsteps of its predecessor the Durham Light Infantry, which was given the same accolade in 1958.
Many riflemen serving today have their roots in the North-East, and Hartlepool in particular.
The event on Saturday will start in Victory Square, where the band and bugles of The Rifles will be playing from 10.30am.
At 11.05am there will be an inspection of The Rifles in Victory Square. The Vice Lord-Lieutenant Alasdair MacConachie and Lieutenant General Tim Evans CBE, DSO, Assistant Colonel Commandant of The Rifles, will inspect the first rank.
The Ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher and Brigadier Richard Smith CBE, The Rifles Colonel (North), will inspect the second rank, and Councillor Allan Barclay, the council’s Armed Forces Champion, and Colonel The Honourable James Ramsbotham DL, Honorary Colonel D Rifles Company, will inspect the third rank.
This will be followed by prayers led by the Reverend Norman Shave, Vicar of Stranton Church.
The Mayor will then address the parade and present the Freedom of the Borough scroll and a silver salver to Lt General Evans, following which Lt Gen Evans will address the people of Hartlepool and the regiment and present the Mayor with an engraved silver bugle.
The Mayor will give his permission for The Rifles to exercise the Freedom of the Borough, and the regiment will then march along Victoria Road, York Road, Park Road, Stockton Street and back along Victoria Road and the troops will then be dismissed. People are advised that Avenue Road and Lauder Street will be closed from 9.30am and Victoria Road will be closed from 10.30am.
The parade route itself will be closed from 11am, with those roads reopening again shortly after the parade has passed through.
It also means that there will also be restricted vehicle access (or in some cases no vehicle access) to or from the public car parks in the area (Open Market, Roker Street, Waldon Street, Eden Street, One Life Centre, Multi-Storey and Basement, West Side and East Side) between about 10.30am and about 11.20am.
Major (Retired) Chris Lawton, The Rifles’ Regimental Secretary (Durham), said: “Many riflemen serving today have their roots in the North-East, and Hartlepool in particular. The Rifles and their Reserve element, D Rifles Company The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, are immensely proud to have been invited to exercise their Freedom by marching through the town.”
Hartlepool’s Ceremonial Mayor Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher said: “I hope as many people as possible will turn out to greet the parade and show their appreciation of the courage and dedication of our local regiment.”