JUNE 17, 2010, was one proud day for the people of Southend.

Thousands lined Southend High Street to welcome home the Royal Anglian Regiment following their tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The Vikings, as they are known, were also given the Freedom of the Borough as a token of the town’s respect and admiration.

In wonderful heat and beautiful sunshine, 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 then Southend mayor Ann Holland, crowds, young and old, waited with mounting excitement further down the street behind steel barriers.

A sea of flags waved the soldiers past as workers cheered from the windows above. 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 soldiers’ faces as they passed by was evident for all to see.

As they mingled with the crowd, many officers were enlisted as makeshift photographers to take pictures of the event.

Mrs Holland 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.