Town to host parade for county warship

More than 160 servicemen and women from the county’s adopted warship, HMS Northumberland, will march through the streets of Morpeth a week on Friday.

Musicians from the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland dressed in scarlet tunics, bearskins and kilts will lead an armed guard, colour party and the ship’s company through the town as it re-affirms its Right of Freedom of the County of Northumberland.

The honour, which dates back to the laws of ancient Rome, is given by authorities to military organisations. It allows them the privilege to march through the streets ‘with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed’.

HMS Northumberland – a Royal Navy missile-armed warship – was first granted its Freedom of Northumberland in 2004.

County councillor and civic head Kath Nisbet said: ““We are particularly proud of the county’s close association with HMS Northumberland and I hope that residents will share that same sense of pride, make a note of the date and turn out to give our naval personnel the very warm welcome they so richly deserve.

“The ship’s company spend many months at sea patrolling our seas and enforcing maritime security. Occasions such as these give everybody the opportunity to show their appreciation of the role and the good work they do.

“I’m sure they will be made very welcome.”

The June 26 parade will start in Coopies Lane at 1.30pm, marching down to Mafeking roundabout and following the A197 down over Telford Bridge, turning left onto Bridge Street.

It will then halt outside Morpeth Town Hall, where civic leaders from around the county will be assembled for a short speech and ceremony and a scroll awarding re-affirming the honour will be presented to HMS Northumberland’s Commanding Officer, Trish Kohn.

After a march and salute back down Bridge Street to the Terrace Car Park, the crew will proceed by coach up to County Hall in order to attend a civic reception in their honour.

Temporary rolling road closures will be in place in the immediate parade areas. Once it has passed, the road will immediately re-open.

Commander Kohn said: “It is an immensely exciting time for both the ship’s company and I to bring HMS Northumberland back home.”