HUNDREDS of soldiers were given a heroes’ welcome when they proudly paraded through Chesterfield following their recent return from Afghanistan.
Scores of well-wishers – many waving flags, others teary-eyed – lined the streets to cheer on the 200 troops in an emotional homecoming parade on Monday.
The soldiers, from the 9th/12th Royal Lancers which recruits in Derbyshire, have just completed a six-month stint in war-torn Afghanistan.
They marched through the town to rapturous cheers and applause from hundreds of smiling residents and proud relatives.
Speaking after the parade, 19-year-old reconnaissance soldier Kieran Buckley, of Clay Cross, said: “I’m very proud. It’s really fantastic to see so many people turn out in support of us.”
His mum, Julie, added: “I’m absolutely delighted for Kieran and all the other troops. They really deserve to be recognised like this.”
Lieutenant Colonel Will Fooks, commanding officer of the 9th/12th Lancers which is based in Germany, said: “This was a very great honour for us and reflected the long-standing connection between the regiment and Chesterfield. We are extremely grateful to the people of Chesterfield for their support.”
Lt Col Fooks said it had been a tough yet rewarding tour of Afghanistan.
He added: “These soldiers make many sacrifices to fulfil their role – some have given their lives. The recognition of this by those at home and more importantly their unstinting support make their sacrifice and efforts worthwhile.”
Cllr Peter Barr, mayor of Chesterfield, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to see the Royal Lancers parade through Chesterfield.
“It was especially heart warming to see the soldiers’ friends and families cheer on their loved ones and to have the opportunity to thank them for their dedication, bravery and professionalism.”