Soldiers will make ‘Ribble Valley proud’ at freedom ceremony

Brigadier Mike Griffiths
Brigadier Mike Griffiths

“We intend making the people of Ribble Valley proud.”

Those were the words this week of Brigadier Mike Griffiths CBE, who on Thursday March 10th will formally accept the Freedom of the Borough of Ribble Valley on behalf of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

The historic event will be marked by the presentation of a scroll to Brigadier Griffiths by Ribble Valley’s Mayor Coun. Lois Rimmer. It will take place in Market Place, Clitheroe, following a march through the town centre by 130 soldiers from the Regiment’s 1st Battalion, supported by the Band of the King’s Division.

Speaking this week, Brigadier Griffiths said the Regiment intended living up to the honour.

“The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment is very proud of being recognised in such a significant way by the people of Ribble Valley,” he said.

“The past 15 months on operations have been a very testing time for our soldiers and their families, but knowing that we have such immense support at home, especially in Ribble Valley, has made our job so much easier.

“On behalf of all our ranks and their families, I would like to thank Councillor Lois Rimmer, councillors and residents for giving us the highest honour that the borough can bestow.

“We intend to live up to the granting of the Freedom of the Borough and make the people of Ribble Valley ever more proud of their regiment.”

Ribble Valley Borough Council voted last year to grant “freedom of the borough” to the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment – which has 40 serving soldiers from Ribble Valley. It gives the Regiment the right to march through Ribble Valley on ceremonial occasions with “drums beating, bands playing and banners flying.”

As the big day draws near, Coun. Rimmer has issued a rallying call to local residents to turn out in force for the soldiers.

“We are looking forward to a marvellous event and I invite local people to turn out in force to offer these brave servicemen and women a warm Ribble Valley welcome,” she said.

As well as a commemorative illuminated scroll signed by civic leaders, Brigadier Griffiths will be presented with a specially-commissioned drum major’s sash featuring an embroidered Ribble Valley borough crest and regimental badge.

“Freedom of entry” dates from Roman times, when troops were not allowed to enter a town or city bearing arms without the express permission of the authorities.

The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment was formed in 2006 following a merger between the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, the King’s Regiment and the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, together with their respective companies of the Lancastrian and Cumbrian Volunteers, and the King’s Cheshire Regiment.