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Sailors exercise the Freedom of Torpoint

25 September 2023
Sailors based at HMS Raleigh have exercised the right to march through their local town Torpoint.

Under blustery skies and threatening clouds, the Mayor of Torpoint invited the Captain of HMS Raleigh, the Royal Navy’s initial training establishment for all Ratings, to exercise the honour of the Freedom of Torpoint.

First granted to HMS Raleigh in December 1996, the privilege allows the establishment to parade through the streets with “drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed”. 

The tradition is one of the oldest surviving ceremonies still in existence, having first been presented in the City of London in 1237. 

The Town Mayor, Councillor Mr Gary Davis, accompanied by the Town Mayoress Mrs Victoria Davis, welcomed the parade.

He said: “The close affiliation that exists between Torpoint and HMS Raleigh extends back many years, and we both benefit from the bonds of friendship between us.” 

Reflecting on the importance placed by the Towns folk on this special link, he added: “Torpoint is a Naval town through and through, and indeed many of the residents either are or have served in the Armed Forces. 

“As the starting point of every Rating’s career in the Royal Navy, HMS Raleigh should be justifiably proud of all they achieve, and we are honoured to be affiliated with this success.”

Captain Jane Roe said: “The bonds between HMS Raleigh and the town of Torpoint are inseparable; every sailor who joins the Royal Navy travels through the town on their way to the start of their Naval career, and the memory of crossing the Tamar, disembarking from the ferry and moving up through the town remains strong with every Rating.” 

Thanking the Town Mayor and the Council, she said: “Torpoint is part of Raleigh, and Raleigh is part of Torpoint; it is a bond we do not take for granted. Thank you for your unwavering comradeship and dedication to the Armed Forces and the Royal Navy in particular.” 

The Town Clerk read the historic Proclamation to those present and the Reverend Mike Woodall, Torpoint Town Mayor and Royal Naval Chaplain based at HMS Raleigh, read out the Naval prayer.

The parade, consisting of over 300 sailors and Royal Marines, accompanied by the Band of His Majesty’s Royal Marines Plymouth, marched from Thanckes Park, down Anthony Road and Harvey Street to the parade area by the Torpoint Ferry. 

After the formal ceremony the sailors then marched back through Torpoint, poignantly saluting the memorial to the men from the town who died in the two World Wars situated in Elliot Square on the wall of St. James Church, before the Mayor and Captain took the salute outside the Old Comrades and United Services Club on Anthony Road.

With the rain holding off (just) the entire parade then enjoyed the warm hospitality of the Town Council back at Thanckes Park, where the Service personnel were treated to a pasty and a drink before heading back to HMS Raleigh, and for the recruits the continuation of their training. 

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