THE Falmouth branch of the Royal Navy Association became the first in the country to be awarded the Freedom of a Town on Saturday with members turning out in force to celebrate the honour.

Late last year, Falmouth Town Council unanimously agreed to bestow the Freedom of Falmouth on the local RNA branch and on Saturday, under blue skies and in front of crowds of onlookers, the official ceremony took place on The Moor piazza.

The branch now officially has the right to “march through the streets of the town with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing and colours flying.”

On Saturday there were no swords or bayonets in sight but there were drums courtesy of the Kernow Pipes and Drums, the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Corps of Drums and North Devon Pipes and Drums, and many colours as standard bearers from several RNA branches and other uniformed organisation joined the parade.

Chairman of Falmouth RNA, Mick Stephens, accepted the ceremonial document on behalf of the branch and said: “It is with a great sense of gratitude and pride that the Royal Naval Association accepts this honour.

“Falmouth has a long history intertwined with the Navy and although we do not have HMS Falmouth any more, we in the Falmouth branch will do our utmost to maintain this link. It is a unique honour for our town, our community and our branch.”

Branch secretary, Ron Burdekin, said afterwards: “It was an absolutely brilliant, marvellous day. It was indescribable. We are very, very proud of the fact we are the first RNA branch in the country to receive this honour and we very much hope that other branches will in the future be granted the same honour.

“There are 350 branches all over the country and overseas and Falmouth is the first and so far the only RNA branch to receive this freedom. I am delighted with the number of members that were able to attend the presentation.”

After the official ceremony, the official document was carried through the town by 12-year-old |twin sisters, Emily and Bethany Yarde-Dent on |behalf of the Falmouth and Penryn Sea Cadets. |They were followed by the RNA members, town councillors, other civic dignitaries and members of other uniformed organisations, including the Royal British Legion.

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