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Updated: Thousands support Royal Anglian parade
12:30pm Thursday 17th June 2010 in Video
PEOPLE turned out in their thousands to do the Royal Anglians proud on their homecoming parade in Southend today.
Cheering crowds, some with their faces painted with the St George cross, lined either side of the High Street as the Vikings marched from Victoria Square to Pier Hill.
As the parade halted at a specially erected stage to hear speeches from commanding officers and Southend Mayor Ann Holland, crowds, young and old, waited with mounting excitement further down the street behind steel barriers. Workers hung from windows above shops and a sea of flags waved the soldiers past. Even the sun put in a long-awaited appearance.
Chants of "We love our soldiers" threatened to drown out the military band leading the parade and the look of pride on soldier's faces as they passed by was evident for all to see.
A heavy police presence ensured the wonderful atmosphere was not marred by troublemakers. As they mingled with the crowd, many officers were enlisted as makeshift photographers to take pictures of groups in the milling crowd.
The mayor and Lt Col James Woodham, of the Royal Anglian Regiment, led the event.
Mrs Holland welcomed the troops to the town and thanked them and their families for the sacrifices they have made to fight overseas.
Mrs Holland also praised Southend Council for impeccable organisation of the event. She said: “There has been an awful lot of planning and there has been co-ordination of the roads, the pick ups, the wristbands for people.
“There has been an awful lot of work that has gone on.
“It is a tremendous honour. I knew it was coming when I was deputy Mayor I knew it was something we have been working towards. Officers have been working behind the scenes and this week it has just been the fine tuning.
“I can’t believe it is here already it seemed so far away and suddenly it is here.
“They deserve everybody’s support and thanks for what they are doing.”
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