'˜Lions of England' given Blackpool honour
Blackpool saluted the '˜Lions of England' as it granted the Freedom of the Borough to the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.
Councillors voted unanimously to give the honour to the regiment which has recruited widely in the resort over the generations.
Following the formal proceedings, soldiers paraded in front of North Pier where they were inspected by Blackpool Mayor Coun Ian Coleman accompanied by Brigadier Peter Rafferty, Colonel of the Regiment.
They then exercised their new freedom by marching through the town centre via St John’s Square and Talbot Road.
Council Leader Coun Simon Blackburn told a special meeting of the council that it was an honour to welcome the regiment known as the ‘Lions of England’.
He added: “The impact of recent events has brought home to us the huge gratitude we owe to our armed forces.
“This honour is not just absolutely the right thing to do, but also it is the right time to do it.”
He said the regiment had supported Blackpool in many ways over the years including during Armed Forces Week, holding sports events at Stanley Park and backing charity events at attractions including the Pleasure Beach and the Sandcastle.
Brigadier Rafferty, of the regiment, said the honour would strengthen the bond with Blackpool.
He said: “As you know we have long been associated with Blackpool.
“Your sons have proudly served in our ranks through many centuries and we have been trusted with their safeguarding as we serve this nation.
“And in future both sons and daughters will serve in our ranks as we anticipate from 2019 being able to accept women for the first time into the infantry.”
He added: “We are proud to be Kingsmen, the Lions of England and now your town’s regiment.”
Gifts were exchanged to mark the occasion, with the regiment presenting the council with a silver lion, while the council presented the regiment with a special scroll.
Freedom of the Borough is the highest civic honour.