LEDBURY will echo to the sound of the Royal Marine band playing Hearts of Oak and Life on the Ocean Wave, as the Freedom of the Town is granted to the crew of HMS Ledbury next week.

Rob Garner, navigating officer and press spokesman for HMS Ledbury, said: "This is the highest honour that a town can bestow on a Royal Navy warship.

"HMS Ledbury's sailors are all eagerly looking forward to visiting Ledbury and meeting local people.

"Members of the ship's company will march through the streets with swords drawn, bayonets fixed and colours flying.

"HMS Ledbury enjoys a warm friendship with her home town. In May, the outgoing mayor of Ledbury, Clive Jupp, visited the ship in Portsmouth and made a generous donation on behalf of the town to the Ship's Welfare Fund.

"This month, Leading Sea Cadet Craig Morgan from Ledbury Sea Cadets spent a week onboard, learning about how a Royal Navy warship operates."

The High Street will be closed from 6pm to 7pm on the day, Wednesday, July 4, for a march starting from the Community Centre, Lawnside Road, shortly after 6.30pm.

Bye Street will not be closed for the marchers, who will be led by the Royal Marine Band, but police will temporarily restrict traffic flow for the few minutes it will take the procession to reach the High Street.

In the High Street, probably close to the War Memorial, a scroll granting the Freedom of the Town will be offered by the mayor, Coun Kay Swinburne, to Lt Cmdr Paul Russell, who will sign it.

Then the marchers will process to the parish church, probably up the cobbled Church Lane instead of along Worcester Road, where no road closure will be in place.

Then there will be a service in the church, before the crew, dignitaries and invited guests return to the Community Hall for a reception.

HMS Ledbury, a Hunt Class minesweeper, took part in the second Gulf War. The last time the crew paraded through the town was in October 2003, when a special thanksgiving service took place for the safe return of the ship and sailors from the Persian Gulf.

This year, the vessel has been carrying out fishery protection duties in the North Sea and by the Isle of Mann.

It has also policed British waters in the English Channel and Thames Estuary.