Army regiment given Freedom of Dereham
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
The Freedom of Dereham has been given to British Army cavalry regiment 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (QDG).
Nicknamed the Welsh Cavalry, the QDG were granted the prestigious honour by Dereham Town Council.
They have been based at Robertson Barracks in the nearby village of Swanton Morley since 2015.
The decision to give the QDG the Freedom of the Town was made in a bid to recognise their work throughout the pandemic, which saw them drive ambulances and assist the NHS.
Soldiers have also been deployed in Mali for much of the last year to undertake a vital peacekeeping mission.
In October, troops shot dead two jihadists after coming under attack in a remote part of the west African nation.
Stuart Green, the mayor of Dereham, said there was little question as to whether the QDG deserved their latest distinction.
He added: "Granting the Welsh Cavalry the Freedom of Dereham is something I proposed to the council in recognition of the work they did during Covid.
"Being on deployment in Mali has also meant being away for six months at a time.
"They have been around Dereham for a number of years and this is a thank you to them."
The QDG's move to Swanton Morley seven years ago saw them replace fellow cavalry regiment, the Light Dragoons, who were based in Norfolk for more than 15 years.
They too were awarded the Freedom of Dereham back in 2012.
However, in 2028 the QDG are set to relocate to Wales, before Robertson Barracks closes for good in 2029 as part of a Ministry of Defence restructure.
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But before that, they can look forward to formally accepting the Freedom of Dereham offer at a special parade in the town on June 28 later this year.
Major Robert Mansel, commanding officer for the QDG's rear operations groups, said: "We are thrilled to be offered the Freedom of Dereham.
"This prestigious offer is testament to the support and interaction we have had and continue to receive from local people. We very much feel like part of the community, with many of our soldiers settling in the local area.
"This really is the icing on the cake after returning from a 12-month operation with the United Nations in Mali.”