South Ayrshire Council granted the Honorary Freedom of South Ayrshire to The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
To mark the very special occasion of 400 soldiers returning home after their third tour of Afghanistan, the servicemen and women paraded through Ayr town centre on Wednesday, November 13.
Cheers, clapping and shouts of good luck filled the air as the 250 servicemen and women were acclaimed by the public who lined the streets to show their support and join in the celebration.
The parade coincided with the troops returning from their third recent tour and it was an opportunity to welcome them home and celebrate their achievements.
As South Ayrshire Provost, Helen Moonie, who played a pivotal role in the Honorary Freedom Ceremony, and is a great advocate of supporting past and present servicemen and women said: “The Honorary Freedom of Ayr is our way of saying thank you to all our brave service personnel.
The troops formed a parade in Pavilion Road which included a brass band, and a military pipe band. The parade led by their Shetland pony mascot marched past the Cenotaph at Wellington Square, through the town where the Depute Lord Lieutenant John Dalrymple-Hamilton and South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie took a salute at the Wallace Tower.
Along with dignitaries at the Wallace Tower were representatives from South Ayrshire secondary schools, who were also invited to attend the ceremony at the Auld Kirk.
The parade marched to the Ayr Auld Kirk where at a very special ceremony, conducted by the Rev David Gemmell and Rev Colin MacLeod, Army Padre, the Freedom Roll was signed by Eileen Howat, South Ayrshire Council’s Chief Executive who said: “This is a great way to recognise the contribution of the armed forces personnel. They are in good company as this honour was previously given to people such as Andrew Carnegie, Sir Winston Churchill and US President Dwight D Eisenhower, HMS Gannet and RAF Prestwick.”
The Freedom Roll was signed by Eileen Howat, Chief Executive of South Ayrshire Council and Lieutenant General Andrew Graham CB, CBE.
After the ceremony the parade marched to Ayr Town Hall where Provost Moonie hosted a civic reception to mark the occasion and there was a medal presentation by the General Graham to some of the soldiers.
The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Robin Lindsay said: “2 SCOTS are delighted to be home from a hard tour and to be reunited with our loved ones. However, our thoughts have been and will continue to be with the families of the three soldiers who were killed on operations.
“We have been overwhelmed by the exceptional support received from local communities over the past six months. It is an honour to accept the Freedom of South Ayrshire on behalf of the Royal Regiment of Scotland”.