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On Saturday 21st May 2011, the Scots Guards were given the Freedom of Wantage. They marched into town and were cheered by thousands of us. It was an absolutely spectacular day!
This webpage was created to gather together all the various bits of information relating to this historic event.
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The first item below is the Press Release written by Chris Fletcher of Media Operations Headquarters 145 (South) Brigade. It provides an excellent summary of what the day was all about.
Press Release by Chris Fletcher 23rd May 2011
Scots Guards Freedom of Wantage Parade and Ceremony
101 Officers and Guardsmen of the 1st Battalion, Scots Guards marched into the town Market Place of Wantage in front of thousands of cheering and flag waving spectators on a brilliantly sunny Saturday lunchtime.
Wearing full ceremonial uniform of scarlet tunics and bearskins, with Colours flying, weapons drawn and bayonets fixed they brought a fantastic sense of pomp and ceremony to the ancient Oxfordshire market town of Wantage, famed for being the birthplace of King Alfred the Great.
The regiment was on parade to receive the Freedom of the Town, and its Colonel in Chief, His Royal Highness, The Duke of Kent, received the scroll from the current Town Mayor, Councillor Mrs Charlotte Dickson.
The connection of Wantage and the Scots Guards goes back to the Victorian era and the Crimean War. A young officer, Robert Lloyd-Lindsay, who was the Queen’s Colour Ensign serving with the then Scots Fusilier Guards, whose duty was to protect the Regimental Colours in battle, was the first recipient of the VC (Victoria Cross). He was awarded the then newly introduced highest award for gallantry by HM Queen Victoria in 1857 for heroically guarding the Regiment’s Colours and advancing towards the enemy. Later in life he was ennobled taking the title of Baron Wantage of Lockinge and so the link was made. Not only did he became the Town’s Member of Parliament, but also proved a great benefactor. He commissioned the building of the town’s statue to King Alfred, the face of which is said to have been modelled on him; he also founded the British Red Cross.
During the Freedom Ceremony and Parade the medals belonging to Baron Wantage, not seen in public since his death in 1901, were also paraded for the town to see; including the priceless VC escorted by the military and watched over private security guards.
Commenting on the day’s events, the Commanding Officer of the Scots Guards, Lieutenant Colonel Lincoln Jopp MC said, “To see Scotland’s finest on parade in Wantage was a magnificent sight. I’m extremely proud of my men and enjoy opportunities such as this for the public to get up close and personal and to hear of their experiences”. He added, “We enjoy wonderful support from the Great British public and I would like to thank, on behalf of the Scots Guards, the people of Oxfordshire and Wantage in particular, for cheering us on today.”
On Tuesday the Scots Guards will form the Guard of Honour for the State Visit of President Barrack Obama before the trooping of their colour on the Queen’s Official Birthday.