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Sailors will march through Stafford and Stone

Published: 20th February 2012 12:00

Naval Personnel march through a town
Around 150 sailors accompanied by military marching band will be parading through the streets of Stone and Stafford next month.

The servicemen and women from HMS Collingwood will be marching through both towns on 10 March.

Fareham-based HMS Collingwood has a long association with the market town of Stone and was granted ‘Freedom of the Borough' more than 30 years ago. The original freedom parade took place in Stone in 1979.

The military will start their parade from the town's Westbridge Park with Staffordshire's Lord Lieutenant, Sir James Hawley, mayor of Stafford Borough, Councillor Stan Highfield, taking the salute in the High Street along with civic dignitaries including the, Stone town mayor, Councillor June Price and Commodore Mike Mansergh CBE.

Sea Cadets visit HMS Collingwood

The parade will be followed by a service at St Michael and St Wulfad's Church and HMS Collingwood will meet with local army and sea cadets who have been invited to the event by the borough council.

The company will then make the short trip to Stafford where they will parade through the town with bayonets fixed and flags flying. They will step out from Tipping Street and the salute will be taken in the Market Square.

Commanding Officer, Commodore Mansergh, said: "HMS Collingwood was honoured to be granted the Freedom of the Borough of Stafford on 31 March 1979 - an honour we are very proud of. 

"There has been an upsurge of support for the Armed Forces brought about by the continued presence on operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world, in which the Royal Navy have made a significant contribution.  It is therefore a great honour for members of the Royal Navy to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and hosting the Olympics by exercising our right to march in Stafford with bayonets fixed and flags flying."

Councillor Highfield said: "Our borough is very proud of our military connections and every time our brave servicemen and women have exercised their right to march they have been supported by hundreds of local people who turn out to show how much we appreciate them."

Stone was originally linked with the Royal Navy through HMS St Vincent which was named after admiral of the fleet, Earl St Vincent. He was born John Jervis at Meaford Hall near Stone and buried in the town's St Michael's Parish Church.

When HMS St Vincent was closed down in 1969 it was decided that HMS Collingwood, a large naval training establishment of 1500 men and women based in Fareham, near Portsmouth, would take over this affiliation. 

The granting of Freedom is a ceremonial occasion to mark the partnership between the Armed Forces and civilians in a local community. HMS Collingwood last exercised the right in 1997. 

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