Skipton’s connections with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment go back more than 200 years – but, in May 1991, a formal link was established.

CHESTS - many emblazoned with ribbons of memorable campaigns around the world - swelled with pride as the Duke of Wellington's Regiment were made honorary citizens of Skipton.

The honour was conferred by the town council and, according to the Craven Herald, it was a memorable day for the town.

The ceremony attracted a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands, of people to the top of the High Street where, poignantly, the cenotaph bore the names of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the two World Wars.

Among the guests was Skipton's Vic Simpson, then in his 90s, but ramrod straight. He had fought on the Somme in one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War and, to mark his contribution, he was given a seat on the front rank of the special guests enclosure in front of the town hall.

At the other end of the scale, there was Cadet Kenneth Rothery, a local lad, wearing the Regimental cap badge on his Cadets uniform.

Also present were members of the Skipton branch of the Regimental Association, who received a new banner to mark the new links between the Dukes and the town.

And there was a Chelsea Pensioner who had travelled up from the Royal Hospital where he had lived for the past few years. Robert Peel, 72, had joined the Regiment in 1938 and, although he was transferred to REME after Dunkirk, he kept his Duke's number throughout his service, which took him as far afield as Persia, Iraq and Malaya.

It was also a memorable day for town mayor Cllr Fred Armitage, providing a magnificent end to his year in office. His father and four uncles served in the Regiment during the First World War.

"There were so many facets to a fascinating day," reported the Herald, "but none was more thrilling than when, as the Regimental Band, fresh back from service in the Gulf, was beating the retreat and a trumpet sounded the descant from the top of the tower of Holy Trinity Church as the flag was lowered."

One onlooker said: "It makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up."

It was in October, 1990, that Skipton Town Council agreed to offer Honorary Citizenship to the Regiment, formally recognising the strong links which had existed over 250 years. Skipton was one of the Dukes' main recruiting grounds.

As the Regimental Band marched into the High Street from The Bailey to applause, so the crowds swelled. The mayor inspected the troops and formally welcomed them, before handing a scroll of citizenship to Brigadier WR Mundell, Colonel of the Regiment.

Cllr Armitage referred to the history of the Regiment, including the fact that the names of those who served in the Boer War were inscribed on wall panels in the old Drill Hall until a few years ago.

"The pride in, and memories of, a large number of Skipton, and indeed the Craven area, will be forever with the Regiment," he declared.

Replying Brigadier Mundell spoke of the great honour that had been accorded to them and of the Regimental family. He said its roots went back more than 200 years and the spirit, loyalty and pride that flowed as a result was the envy of infantry throughout the world.

He referred not only to the presence of Vic Simpson and Lord Ingrow, Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire and a former member of the Regiment, but to the four promising junior NCOs from the Skipton area who were serving with the Dukes.

He said that while the Army was relatively small and was likely to become even smaller, it was held in high esteem throughout the country and the world, whether it was supporting the police in Northern Ireland, where the Dukes had completed nine tours, fighting for the nation's right over the Falklands or helping the United Nations with peacekeeping duties.

Brigadier Mundell said that, throughout, British Army had maintained its high standards and would continue to do so in the future. It would always strive to live up to its traditions and motto "Fortune Favours the Brave", whether serving country, county or town.

Following the ceremony, the troops, with fixed bayonets and colours uncased, marched through the town. Taking part were the Regimental Band and Corps of Drums, colour parties and detachments from the Cadet Force at Giggleswick School.

The day ended with a reception in the town hall at which the mayor presented a wine taster to the Regiment. It was given with pride and as a permanent link with the Regiment, said Cllr Armitage.

Responding, the Brigadier issued a challenge to Skipton Rugby Club to play the Regimental team in the autumn.

Eleven years later, the Duke of Wellington's links with the area were further strengthened when the Regiment was made honorary citizens of Craven District in another spectacular ceremony.

And, when the Dukes merged to form the Yorkshire Regiment in the summer of 2006, the citizenship of both Skipton and Craven transferred to the new body.