Dragoons homecoming: Picture gallery - hundreds of excited children welcome the troops home

The excitement on their faces was infectious as they furiously waved Union Flags and shouted 'come on you soldiers'.

Some 800 children and teenagers from mid-Norfolk schools packed into Dereham Market Place for the Light Dragoons Welcome Home parade yesterday.

Youngsters from Grove House Infant School and Nursery in Dereham and Dereham Church Infant School and Nursery gathered near St Nicholas Parish Church and cheered loudly when the 350 soldiers stood to attention.

Five-year-old Steven White, from Grove House Infant School and Nursery said: 'I'm looking forward to seeing the aeroplane and tanks.'

A six-year-old girl from the same school said the event was 'really exciting'.

Dereham parent Amanda Day, 37, who was with her four-year-old boy and six-year-old girl, said: 'It is important for the children to understand about what the soldiers have been doing for us and the country and what it will mean for them in the future. It is important they come to support the troops.'

Susan Cassidy, 42, from Dereham, who has a five year old and six year old at Grove House Infant School and Nursery, said: 'It is about community spirit. The Light Dragoons are part of our community and are only three miles down the road. It is nice the children have been asked to come down.'

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Other schools which attended were Swanton Morley Primary School; Toftwood Junior School; St Mary's Primary School, Beetley; Rockinghorse Nursery, Mattishall; King's Park Infant School, Dereham; Magic Tree Day Nusery, Dereham; Fred Nicholson School, Toftwood; Neatherd High School, Dereham; and Northgate High School, Dereham.

Glyn Hambling, Northgate High headteacher, said: 'We are honoured and extremely proud to be able to come and welcome the Light Dragoons into Dereham, particularly when we have got such an association through children of service families who are keen to show their respect and pride of the Light Dragoons.'

He said the school has over 30 students who are part of servicemen families.

A number of Northgate High pupils are members of the Dereham Air Cadets who helped give out parade supplements, produced by the EDP's sister publication the Dereham Times, which raised money for the Light Dragoon's Colonel's Appeal.

Northgate High student George Simpson, 14, said he was proud to be at the event because his 21-year-old brother and father are in the Light Dragoons.

His brother was part the parade and his father, who was not in the parade, had recently returned from a six month tour of Afghanistan.

Northgate High pupil and air cadet Cerys Wright, 14, whose father is a sergeant at RAF Marham, said: 'It is an amazingly brave thing to go to Afghanistan.'

John Gretton, chairman of governors at Dereham Church Infant School and Nursery said it was a special day.