Preparations are well under way as Ormskirk gears up for the Freedom of West Lancashire to be presented to the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
Bunting will be erected throughout the town centre and market stalls will be selling commemorative Union Flags at the event on Saturday October 22.
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, based at Weeton Barracks near Preston, will march through the town centre ahead of the special service at Ormskirk Parish Church.
At the service a specially-created scroll will be presented to Brigadier Mike Griffiths CBE by the West Lancashire Mayor, Councillor Rob Bailey. The soldiers, accompanied by the Band of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, will then march through the town centre to the dais in Moor Street opposite Home Bargains.
Here the troops will be inspected by Councillor Bailey in front of crowds of West Lancashire residents before leaving for a private reception at Edge Hill University. A significant proportion of the soldiers taking part come from West Lancs and the surrounding area.
Councillor Bailey said: “I’m delighted to be able to bestow this honour on our local troops and hope Ormskirk will be awash with red, white and blue as the soldiers’ familes and local people come out to cheer them on.
”Lancashire has a proud military tradition and it’s only right that we should make this gesture to our county regiment.”
The troops will march from 52 Derby Street to Ormskirk Parish Church at 11am. Following the service, they will parade across Park Road, down Church Street to the dais on Moor Street at 12.10pm, before parading out of the town centre.
Lieutenant Colonel Robbie Boyd, commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, added:
"Our parade through Ormskirk marks two important events; our record breaking return home from over 15 months of tough operations in Afghanistan and three years in Cyprus, and also the acceptance of the immense honour of being granted the Freedom of West Lancashire.
“Lancastrian soldiers will march through Ormskirk proud of the support we receive from one of the home towns of The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment. Local lads have returned home to a heroes’ welcome and we have been, frankly, thrilled and humbled by the support of the great people of Lancashire and the North West since we moved back to Weeton Barracks last month.
“Lancashire soldiers are Lions of England, Lancashire soldiers are proud of where we are from. The honour to receive the Freedom of West Lancashire confirms the regard that we are held in by the people of the West Lancashire. It is a pride we reciprocate to everyone in our home counties. Lions of England will now march with pride, drums beating, bayonets fixed and colours flying in Ormskirk for hundreds of years to come.”
Guests at the reception will tuck into meat provided by H Greaves and Son of Up Holland and a special ale created by the Burscough Brewing Company. Edge Hill University has kindly provided the reception venue free of charge.