Children cheered as the volunteer band of HMS Seahawk led around 100 sailors marching through the streets of Helston on Wednesday morning (July 10).

The sailors from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose were exercising their right to the freedom of the town. Children from all three primary schools and the secondary school, alongside many members of the public, lined the streets to watch the annual parade.

The day marked the 61st anniversary of Helston granting Culdrose the Freedom of the Borough, a ceremonial honour that has its origins in the time when groups of armed men were refused entry into the town unless they held the trust of residents.

Behind the colour party, bearing the naval white ensign, came the guard, followed by a platoon of sailors from the air station and the HMS Seahawk field gun and crew.

They assembled this year outside the Guildhall, where the mayor of Helston, John Martin, was invited to inspect the assembled sailors by the commanding officer of Culdrose, Captain Anthony Rimington. The idea was to hold the ceremony in the centre of town so that people could see more of the parade.

The mayor John Martin complemented the sailors on their turnout for the event, which he described as a “very significant occasion for the town”, adding: “As usual, you are all of impeccable appearance and an absolute credit to the Royal Navy.”

He said: “I especially hope this message of comradeship can be relayed to those currently serving away from home. Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose is an important part of the life and culture of Helston, not only for civilian workers but for the many service personnel, and I hope this ceremony strengthens this tie between us and long may the freedom of Helston remain.”

Captain Anthony Rimington said it was a great honour for everyone at Culdrose to be allowed to exercise their right to march through the town.

He said it was an exciting time for the air station, which is working closely with the navy’s new aircraft carriers and leading the way with new technology such as remotely piloted aircraft, which he expected would play an increasingly important role at Culdrose in the next 12 months.

“All of these innovations and different activities require people, such as the men and women of the air station that you see in front of you today,” he said. “We are hugely grateful for the honour you give us for allowing us to march through your town with, as the old saying goes: ‘bayonets fixed, colours flying and band playing’.”

The sailors then marched off down Coinagehall Street in time for a flypast by a helicopter from 824 Naval Air Squadron. In a new move this year, children from the town’s three primary schools, Parc Eglos, Nansloe and St Michael’s, followed the procession and marched down Coinagehall Street themselves.