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Culdrose personnel exercise their right to march through Helston

16 June 2017
Thursday 15 June saw personnel from RNAS Culdrose march through the centre of Helston. This parade was the annual Freedom of Helston ceremony and took place between 10.00am and 11.00am. The Naval personnel exercised their privilege to march through the streets of Helston "with bayonets fixed, drums beating and flags flying".

HMS Seahawk was granted the Freedom of the Borough of Helston in 1958 and the Air Station is keen to exercise the right and privilege of marching through the streets of the town, where the Mayor of Helston, Gillian Geer, took the Salute accompanied by the Commanding Officer of Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Captain Danny Stembridge and members of the Town Council.

 The Parade started with an inspection.

The Mayor of Helston addressed the parade saying how proud she was to see their Sailors on Parade and how important the town and air station are to each other.

The Captain of Culdrose spoke to them also. He thanked them for their hard work and said what an honour it was to see them ready to exercise their right.

The Parade then ‘stepped off’ to march down Meneage Street and Coinagehall Street.  As the Mayor took the salute, a Merlin from 829 NAS flew overhead.

Making up the parade were the Culdrose Volunteer Band, Standard, Casket containing the Declaration of the Freedom on the Borough of Helston, Guard, Division of Sailors and the Field Gun Crew.

Two of the youngest members of the guard were Writer (Wtr) Cameron Oldridge from Newuqay and Naval Airman Aircraft Controller (NA AC) Steph Garrett from Poole in Dorset. 

Both were volunteers to be in the guard and both were very proud that they represented Culdrose by marching through the town. Wtr Oldridge said that he will always remember his first freedom parade.

Being local, his parents came to watch and he considered it real honour to parade in front of them.  In his day job, Wtr Oldridge looks after pay and arranges the travel for personnel to join their ships abroad. NA (AC) Garrett works in the Air Traffic Control Tower at Culdrose ensuring that Naval Aviation is conducted in a safe way.

She has enjoyed being the guard. She says that there is a good team spirit, that she has met personnel from other branches and that there is always a joker to make them all laugh (at a suitable time!).

The RNAS Culdrose Band is band up of Service Personnel, Civilians working at Culdrose and some family members. Bandsman and Air Engineer Technician (AET) Dennis Standing felt very proud to be marching through Helston.

He was glad to have the good weather and was looking forward to his pasty after the parade. AET Liam Kitching, another member of the band, says the real highlight was seeing the school children cheering and waving their flags.

Sue and Tim Stone from Mawgan watch the parade every year.

They feel very proud to see their local sailors exercising their right to march. They support the parade as they see it as their way of thanking the armed forces for what they do for the country all over the world.

Also in the crowd were some Army veterans, Wayne Hall and Malcolm Carr. They like to support Culdrose and it makes them feel very nostalgic.

The local schools were out in force. Children from the three Helston Primary Schools, Parc Eglos, Nansloe and St Michael’s were all there along with Primary school children from Cury and Secondary school children from Helston Community College.

Many of those children watching the parade have family members serving in the military, and they felt very proud to see them marching. Some parents of the children were not present as they are deployed overseas.

The schools identify these children and run special clubs for them and help them keep a scrap book diary of what they have been doing while their parents are away.

Sophie from Parc Eglos said she really enjoyed the parade. She said that it was better than PE! Jessica also from Parc Eglos really enjoyed seeing the sailors marching and said they all looked very smart. She is also looking forward to her Dad returning soon from a foreign deployment.

The action of a City or Town conferring upon a Unit 'Freedom of entry with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing and Colours flying', dates from the time when fortress walls were necessary to protect the inhabitants of the Town from the incursions of outlaw bands and the attacks of feudal Lords.

Bodies of armed men were refused entry into the Town unless the citizens were confident that they meant no harm.  Thus the granting of permission for a formed body of armed men to enter a Town became a mark of trust and confidence in which that body was held by the citizens of the Town.

To be granted freedom of a Town or City is the greatest honour that can be bestowed upon a Unit within the Armed Forces.

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