LOCAL soldiers will be on parade in Melrose on Saturday, when their regiment accepts the Freedom of the Borders.
The parade of troops from the Royal Regiment of Scotland will march to Gibson Park in Melrose, opposite the Greenyards, and form up ready for the freedom ceremony to begin at 11am.
The regiment will be represented by members of the two battalions which recruit in the Borders area – the 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Borderers and the 6th Battalion (52nd Lowland) – the Territorial Army battalion.
The ceremony will begin with a formal inspection of the soldiers on parade by Scottish Borders Council convener, Alasdair Hutton – himself a former TA paratroop officer – along with the colonel of the regiment, Lieutenant General Andrew Graham CBE, the three Borders Lord Lieutenants and the commanding officers of the two battalions on parade.
That will be followed at about 11:15am by a prayer from the Reverend Stephen Blakey, a former chaplain with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, and now chaplain to the 6th Battalion. Councillor Hutton will then address the parade before inviting Scottish Borders Council chief executive David Hume to read the scroll granting the freedom, which has been beautifully crafted by calligrapher Susie Leiper.
After the convener presents the framed scroll to Lt General Graham, he will reply on behalf of the regiment before a prayer of dedication and The Lord’s Prayer, followed by the National Anthem and a blessing.
Then the parade will step off from Gibson Park at about 11:45am, led by the pipes and drums of the 1st Battalion and the Lowland Band of the regiment, to march through Melrose by way of Buccleuch Street and Abbey Street to the High Street where the salute will be taken by the colonel of the regiment and the SBC convener.
Councillor Hutton told TheSouthern: “Happily a lot of people have shown great interest in honouring our soldiers and I hope a very great many will turn out to cheer them on as they exercise their new freedom for the first time.”