Hampshire homecoming celebration - fly past and parade

Press Release: 15/01/2008

A Chinook helicopter will fly above the armed forces as they march up Winchester High Street for the Hampshire Homecoming parade. The event will celebrate the thousands of Hampshire based servicemen and women who have recently returned from active duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is the first time that any county has welcomed home its combined armed forces in this way.

Three-hundred service personnel will set off at 11.45am on 29 January from King Alfred’s statue in the Broadway, Winchester, as Hampshire pays tribute to their service. 

Led by the band of the Welsh Guards, the troops will march three-abreast in their desert combat uniform, up the High Street, past the historic Westgate to the sound of cheering crowds and the pealing Cathedral bells.

Weather permitting, it is planned that a Chinook helicopter will fly up the High Street as the clock strikes noon as the parade passes the saluting dais outside the main Hampshire County Council building at Elizabeth 11 Court (by the statue of the hog).  The parade will then fall out in Castle Avenue before going into a reception in the Great Hall.

Catering at the reception will be provided by the Territorial Army’s 457 (Hampshire Yeomanry) Battery, Royal Artillery (Volunteers), some of whom have also recently returned from active service.  Commemorative scrolls will be presented to each unit, and all service personnel will receive a bottle of beer from Hampshire’s Itchen Valley Brewery and Fullers, together with an engraved glass tankard in recognition of their service and sacrifice.

The reception is being co-hosted by the leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Ken Thornber and the Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Mary Fagan. Councillor Thornber said: “The Hampshire Homecoming Celebration is shaping up to be a memorable day. It has long been my desire to see the service of all returning servicemen and women being acknowledged and recognised in this way. The county is honoured to mark their safe return and record our thanks with such a magnificent parade and reception.”

Service families from Aldershot will join the thousands of  Hampshire well wishers and school children as they line the historic city centre route. Spectators wishing to watch the parade are encouraged to use public transport or the Winchester Park and Ride facilities, as city centre car parking is limited and there may be temporary interruptions to traffic as some road junctions close when the parade passes by.

For more details go to www3.hants.gov.uk/returningforcesparade