Proposals to transform a military spectacle into one of the “biggest and most prestigious” in the north of England have been given a major boost by Durham’s Freemen.
Against the back drop of the ancient city nearly 600 members of the regular and reserve units of the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy will, along with members of the fire, police and ambulance services, take part in a march from Durham Cathedral for this year’s Annual Remembrance Parade on Sunday, November 12.
Draft plans, formulated by retired firefighter Arthur Lockyear, are already at an advanced stage and a £1,000 donation from the freemen has underpinned the expanded arrangements.
Last year nearly 400 military and emergency service personnel took part in the ceremony and Mr Lockyear confirmed the freemen’s generosity would enable organisers to include an extra 140 participants and the possible addition of a military band to this year’s event.
Mr Lockyear, who started his career as a fireman at the Fulwell fire station in 1976, devoted more than 30 years to supporting Sunderland’s city centre Remembrance Day Parade and from 1995 until 2012 committed himself to reviving and developing the event - work that resulted in the award of an MBE in 2010.
“I have had the honour of assisting ‘D’ Rifles Company with preparations for the Durham City parade since 2014 and I hope it will fulfil its potential to become a great national occasion. The freemen’s support has enabled us to bring many more members of the armed forces to Durham, adding to the poignancy of the occasion on this most important of days,” added Mr Lockyear, who lives on the outskirts of Durham.
Eric Bulmer, chairman of the wardens of the freeman, said “We feel privileged to be able to offer tangible support to this year’s parade. We know the act of remembrance still means a great deal to very many local families. People remain extremely proud of the history and heritage of the Durham Light Infantry and their successors which engenders the total respect of the citizens of Durham.”
The 2016 parade included troops from the Royal Dragoon Guards, Foot Guards, Parachute Regiment, Light Dragoons, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Royal Military Police and RAF Leeming. Fire service standard bearers from Scotland, London, Manchester, Nottinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex travelled to Durham to be part of the tribute to the “Fallen.”