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South Tyneside’s “homecoming parade”

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I arrived at the Town Hall in Westoe Road, South Shields just a couple of minutes after noon today to find a small but growing band of enthusiastic locals who had braved torrential downpours and gusty winds to attend this event that marks the safe return home of six TA servicemen from their tour of duty in Helmand, Afghanistan. I’d already been thoroughly soaked through after a trip down to the supermarket and even the actions of getting in and out of the car would guarantee another soaking, but what the heck, it was a tiny sacrifice compared to that offered by our servicemen and women who do such a professional job wherever the country asks them to go.

This small ceremony in South Shields today was meant to mark that sacrifice and to honour the men and women who do the jobs that we would choose not to, whether they are currently serving or have served in various conflicts around the world such as Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland as well as Afghanistan and Iraq. The rain continued to deluge us all and at times the wind turning it into a horizontal onslaught as the preparations were made to curtail the original length of the parade and the crowds grew a little larger behind a ceiling of umbrellas struggling to keep shape.

The pipe and drum band of the 101st. Regt. (Northumbrian) Royal Artillery (Volunteers) led the short march to the Town Hall forecourt followed by representatives of 205 (3rd DVA) Bty, RA (V) and 4 Platoon, 12 Company, 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment (V) in Hebburn. There they joined assembled councillors and civic dignitaries as well as members of their families and general public in a short service conducted jointly by the Rev. Paul Kennedy of St. Michael and All Angels, Westoe, and Father Michael Wemyss of St. Bede’s, Westoe Road. The Mayor of South Tyneside Cllr. John Anglin was joined by the Mayoress and the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear Nigel Sherlock as he paid tribute to the returning TA volunteers from South Tyneside who have recently returned from Afghanistan, and offered our communal thanks, admiration, and pride to all those South Tyneside people who had served their country in the armed services throughout a number of post war modern campaigns.

Finally, the flag of the 205 Bt was lowered from it’s mast above the Town Hall where it has flown since their men embarked on their mission, neatly folded the Mayor handed it back over to Major Peter Winton, after the singing of the National Anthem the parade left the Town Hall forecourt with the peals of applause ringing in their ears.

It was a rotten day for weather but I’m glad I was there and glad that it went ahead against the conditions, I’m sure those who turned out found it an experience worth witnessing.

South Tyneside is proud of it’s young men and women.

Click the thumbnails to enlarge.

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Written by curly

November 29, 2009 at 6:25 pm

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