Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

TEES PRIDE; Crowds Line the Streets to Welcome Home Our Heroes

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

TEES PRIDE; Crowds Line the Streets to Welcome Home Our Heroes

Article excerpt

By SOPHIE BARLEY and DAVE ROBSON HUGE crowds in Middlesbrough and Redcar welcomed our heroic troops home for a well-deserved Freedom Parade.

There was plenty of pride and emotion yesterday from the crowds who greeted the soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, who have just returned from a gruelling tour of Afghanistan.

And it was a true homecoming for most, with more than 200 of the 300 parading soldiers from Teesside.

The sun shone as they marched through Middlesbrough, led by the band of the King's Division. They ended in Centre Square where they were inspected by Middlesbrough Mayor, Ray Mallon.

In Redcar, the afternoon parade began and finished at the Redcar Bowl. They marched along Coatham Road and High Street before ending up on a packed esplanade. Private Ben Iveson, 22, pictured, from Stockton, said he felt "proud" to be among those marching.

He said: "It is so good to be back in Teesside and it really means a lot to see so many people coming a long way to see us. My mum and dad, Sheila and Brian, were watching, which was nice. This was something I have really been looking forward to."

Corporal Keith Harriman, 32, from Hartlepool, said: "We want to thank everyone who came along. The turnout has been fantastic."

As they marched through the streets, thousands of people applauded, cheered and waved flags. Pupils from Newport Primary School, Middlesbrough, made flags and banners reading "Welcome Home".

Teacher Vikki Gallafant-Brown said: "We have brought along 30 Year 5 children. They have all been really looking forward to it and thought it would be nice to make some banners.

"It is great to see so many people here." Emily Crosby, 18, from Hartlepool, was cheering on her boyfriend John Welsh, 21.

She said: "John came back from Afghanistan in April. He was gone for seven months which was really hard.

"I am so proud to see him marching in the parade today. He has been really looking forward to coming to Teesside for this. There've been a few tears."

Lieutenant Colonel David Colthup said he was amazed by the size of the crowd. He said: "It is fantastic. It gives the lads a real boost when they see that. It is touching to see. Being here and seeing all the support makes all the hard work worthwhile."

In the afternoon, Redcar ground to a halt as well-wishers packed the seafront.

The regiment last marched in Redcar two years ago. Then, it was a double celebration - to mark the troops' homecoming from Afghanistan and to receive the Freedom of the Borough scroll.

But two years on, perhaps fuelled since then by the tragic loss of more troops in the desert, the welcome was, if anything, even more heartfelt and emotional.

Among those marching was Lance Corporal Anthony Coleman, 29, from Middlesbrough. …

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