Thousands welcome home Hampshire’s armed forces

The streets of Winchester were packed with thousands of people today (Tuesday) as they came to watch 300 Royal Navy, Army, and Royal Air Force servicemen and women march through the town for their homecoming celebration after recent tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The celebration was designed to say thank you to Hampshire’s troops and recognise the important role they play.

Crowds marvelled at the troops marching through the ancient city streets lined by people cheering and waving flags, and at the sight of the Chinook helicopters flying past above the high street at the time of the salute.

The troops were then welcomed at a reception at the Great Hall, co-hosted by the leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Ken Thornber and the Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Mary Fagan. Commemorative scrolls were presented to each unit, and all service personnel received 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.

Cllr George Beckett, Leader of Winchester City Council said “Winchester City Council is delighted to have had the opportunity to recognise and honour Hampshire soldiers, seamen, and airmen who are doing such a splendid job for every one of us.”

Cllr Ken Thornber said he was delighted to see so many people from all over the county come out and welcome the armed forces. He commented: “It says a lot for the people of Hampshire that they care and are quietly proud - perhaps too quietly at times - of their armed forces.  I am delighted that so many people came and showed their respect for the young men and women who have served their country so proudly.”

The Hampshire Homecoming was unique in that it recognised the service of all three armed forces; the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force. Territorial Army personnel were also represented and the Royal Artillery Battery 457 of the Territorials provided the buffet.