SOLDIERS from the 5th Regiment Royal Artillery marched through Skipton on March 2 to great applause from onlookers as they were awarded the Freedom of Craven.

In 2019 Craven District Council approved proposals to grant Freedom of the district to the regiment, fondly called the Yorkshire Gunners. A civic service was held outside Skipton Town Hall attended by church leaders, civic dignitaries and guests including the Skipton branch of the Royal British Legion, as the Freedom scroll was presented to Lieutenant Colonel Dan Herberts, Commanding Officer of the Regiment.

Welcoming the troops, Chairman of Craven District Council, Cllr Simon Myers, said the parade offered a “unique” opportunity to say thank you to the Service personnel. In addressing the crowd and parade, he said: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome the ‘Yorkshire Gunners’ to Skipton. They recruit 80 per cent of their soldiers from Yorkshire. They truly are a Yorkshire regiment. We recognise their contribution to keeping the peace and to guaranteeing democracy in our country. It is a great honour as chair on behalf of the citizens of Craven to present the Freedom of Craven. In times of crisis, the brave soldiers have always stepped in – be it during the foot-and-mouth epidemic, the Covid pandemic or for all the charitable activities they take part in - they have always supported the people of Yorkshire, particularly North Yorkshire. This is a fitting honour and in recognition of their distinguished service to our citizens."

The Reverend Canon Dr James Theodosius, rector of Holy Trinity Church, Skipton, added “It’s really good for me to be able to welcome the 5th Regiment Royal Artillery. This parade of Freedom, is, I feel a symbol of our unity of coming together. It’s a parade of Freedom which symbolises our shared humanity and Skipton has a proud history of that and a proud history of supporting His Majesty’s Forces in North Yorkshire. In Skipton we have a real pride in our identity here. We have the church, Skipton Castle and its rich history. We have a history of great industry coinciding with wonderful agricultural farming skills with a gateway to the Dales. We stand on the edge of the diverse and wonderful urban areas of Bradford and Leeds and we sit right between east and west. We are a symbol of unity and to be able to offer the Freedom of this district to the 5th Regiment Royal Artillery is such a wonderful thing.”

A reception for guests was held inside Skipton Town Hall.