SAILORS from HMS Ledbury will parade through the streets this weekend as they exercise their freedom of the town.
The Hunt-Class mine hunter ship's company have a busy schedule ahead of them, starting with a friendly football match against Ledbury Swifts and a reception at the Royal British Legion in Church Street tomorrow (Saturday).
On Sunday, the mood will become one of pride as the crew lines up at the Community Centre, Lawnside Road, to exercise its freedom for only the third time since the honour was bestowed in 2007.
Mayor of Ledbury, cllr Terry Widdows, and the Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire, Lady Darnley, will take the salute as the parade marches with drums beating, bayonets fixed and colours flying via Bye Street to the High Street at about 10.45am.
Cllr Widdows said: "It's obviously something we are immensely proud of. It gives us the chance to show our appreciation for the work that they do."
Mr Widdows added: "It will be nice for them to see the town. The crew changes, so for a lot of them it will probably be their first visit and a chance to meet some people."
The parade will also feature Ross and Monmouth Sea Cadets, Hereford Sea Cadets, members of the Royal British Legion, who will also be standard bearers on the day, and Ledbury Army Cadets, all led by the Royal Marine Band from Plymouth.
An address will be given by the Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire and the mayor with the Commanding Officer of HMS Ledbury, Lieutenant Commander Simon Pressdee responding, before the parade moves off past the war memorial.
Lt Cdr Pressdee said: “HMS Ledbury was honoured to have the freedom of the town of Ledbury conferred on her in 2007 and we marched for the first time that year.
“It is with particular pride that the ship’s company will march through the streets of Ledbury on this occasion, only the third time since that historic date."
He added: “A freedom parade is a very special moment in any ship’s affiliation and we couldn’t be more proud to exercise this honour in our twin town, with which we have a close bond."
Ledbury Town Council will host a special reception for the ship’s company and civic dignitaries afterwards.