A local Army regiment will be awarded the Freedom of Northumberland on Saturday 12 November and roads in the centre of Hexham will be temporarily closed to allow the safe passage of the parade.
More than 200 soldiers from the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery will march through the town to be granted the special honour. The parade will start at Wentworth Leisure Centre at 13.45 and will follow a route via Priestpopple, before moving on to Beaumont Street.
The Regiment will present itself at 2pm in front of the dias for inspection by the Vice Lord Lieutenant, the Civic Head of Northumberland County Council, the Commander 1st Artillery Brigade and the Mayor of Hexham.
Beaumont Street will be closed from 6 am – 3 pm. Roads on Chisholm Place, Priestpopple, Cattle Market and Battle Hill will be closing from 13.45 on a temporary rolling basis, and once the parade has passed, the roads will immediately reopen.
With some traffic congestion expected, spectators are asked to get into town early.
Alan Sambrook, Civic Head of Northumberland County Council said: “We want to give the service men and women a rousing welcome and I would urge anyone who is able to get into Hexham on Saturday 12, to do so. We are hoping for sunshine and big crowds. If you have young family, bring them along too. It is sure to be a day to remember for everyone in the community. ”
Granting the Freedom is an ancient honour given to military organisations, allowing them the privilege to march through the streets ‘with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed.’
The honour dates back to the laws of ancient Rome which made it a capital offence for Roman legions to enter the city in formation or with weapons without permission. The law was in place to ensure that ambitious generals did not mount a military coup.
However military groups that had given heroic service or whose honour was beyond question, could be granted Freedom of the City: the group would not have to disarm or break ranks before the city gates were opened to them and, given the serious risk the city would be running, this was a rare honour.