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Afghan-bound troops march with pride through Chippenham
Around 200 troops and officers from 9 Theatre Logistic Regiment marched through Chippenham today to say a final goodbye before they leave for Afghanistan.
Soldiers marched to the Royal Logistic Corps band from the Causeway through Market Place and the High Street at 12pm after a church service at St Andrew’s.
A party of dignitaries, including Lord Lieutenant Mrs Sarah Rose Troughton, the High Sherriff of Wiltshire Lady Laura Phillips, Chippenham Mayor Andy Phillips and Brigadier R.J McNeil stood outside the town hall to greet them as they passed.
They were also greeted by members of the public and schoolchildren, including pupils from Hullavington and Stanton St Quintin, who lined the streets waving flags, clapping and shouting encouragement.
At Stanton St Quintin Primary School 30 per cent of the school’s children come from a military family.This includes Connor Donoghue, age six, who was there to cheer on his mother Lieutenant Colonel Suzi Donoghue as commander of the regiment.
Karen Winterburn, headteacher at Stanton St Quintin, said: “It’s all about supporting our children and supporting the families and saying thank you because we’re all part of the same community. The children are doing absolutely brilliantly and I’m really proud of them.”
The regiment, based at Buckley Barracks, was bestowed freedom of the town by the mayor in January 2012.
About three quarters of the soldiers who took part in the parade will be deployed over the next few weeks and some others have already gone.
Most will be stationed at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province. Others will operate from Kandahar, Kabul and various forward operating bases within Helmand Province.
They will provide the deployed British forces with everything from ammunition, body armour, vehicles, and weapons, to fuel, rations, medical supplies and water.
Lieutenant Colonel Suzi Donoghue said the march had lifted the spirits of everyone in the regiment.
She said: “This is the first time we’ve marched through and it has made everyone feel really proud because of the support not just for us but for our families.
“My husband has been away recently and I know how important it is to have support from your friends and family- it’s much easier for those away knowing they have that support network back home too.
“Many of the regiment have been four or five times and some have never been before. Many are excited because this is their first time and others are excited because it’s a very different job they will be doing.”
Regiment member Captain Hywel Thomas, who has served in the army for almost 26 years, said: “It was a bit of a shock- we knew there would be some people but when we turned the corner it was quite a surprise to see the number of people there.”