Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham gives Freedom of the City to Foot Guards

Hundreds of people in Birmingham have watched five regiments which made up the Foot Guards being granted the Freedom of the City.

About 200 soldiers representing the regiments marched through the city.

The Foot Guards are made up of the 1st Battalions of the Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards and Welsh Guards.

Lord Mayor of Birmingham Anita Ward, whose son is an Irish Guardsman, took the Salute.

The city council received a 200-name petition last summer requesting the honour for one regiment and said councillors decided they wanted to grant all five regiments freedom.

Ms Ward was joined by her son, L/Sgt Vince Hockley.

'Big day'

He is recovering after being seriously injured in Afghanistan. One of his colleagues was killed in the ambush in November 2010.

Image caption Anita Ward said she was very proud of her son

Reading the Freedom Declaration to the parade and crowds in Victoria Square, Ms Ward said it was a "proud day" for her and for Birmingham.

"Honouring the Foot Guards with the freedom of the second city demonstrates our recognition of the commitment our young men and women make to the Armed Forces," she said.

"As a mother this is a big day for me and my son's regiment, the Irish Guards. And because we are recognising all five regiments this is a truly family affair since my father, Phil Ward, served in the Coldstream Guards and is here to support them today.

"So taking all this into account and the fact that it is my son's 30th birthday today, I can't promise not to shed a tear."

L/Sgt Hockley, of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, is studying on a language course and said he was keen to return to operations soon.

The Freedom of the City entitles the regiments to march through the city centre with "drums beating, bayonets fixed and colours flying".

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