Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Paras unveil statue in historic return to Aldershot

Aldershot parade Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption Thousands of veterans and serving soldiers took part in a parade

Thousands of British Army veterans have taken part in a ceremony in the town where the army's airborne forces were based for half a century.

Current and former members of the Parachute Regiment and other units marched through Aldershot.

A statue of a paratrooper was unveiled in the town's Princes Gardens to mark the historical link.

Airborne forces were based in Aldershot after World War Two until the year 2000 when units moved to Colchester.

Image caption The statue depicts a paratrooper ready to jump from a plane

An estimated 10,000 spectators watched the ceremonies, BBC reporter Steve Humphrey said.

The statue of a paratrooper ready to jump from a plane is mounted on a block of granite from Mount Longdon, the scene of a key battle involving the Parachute Regiment during the Falklands War.

Funds for the statue were raised by two veterans of the regiment.

Speaking at the unveiling, Lt Gen Sir John Lorimer said it was the first "permanent and fitting memorial" to airborne forces in Aldershot.

Image copyright Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption The statue was unveiled in the town's Princes Gardens