MORE than 120 soldiers marched through Cirencester on Sunday as part of the town’s commemorations marking the 900th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of St Mary the Virgin.

The 29 Regiment RLC, based at Duke of Gloucester Barracks, South Cerney, was invited by the town council to ‘exercise its freedom’ – the first time it has done so since being granted the Freedom of the Cotswolds in 2005.

The Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel James E.R. Rhodes led the 120 strong parade through the streets lined with cheering crowds and accompanied by music from the Band of the Army Medical Services.

On approaching the Parish Church of St John Baptist in the Market Place, the soldiers gave ‘eyes right’ or salute, to Colonel Colin J Francis MBE ADC and Lord Bathurst were watching.

Following the Freedom March a service was held by Reverend Katy Richardson.

Lord Bathurst said: “It was an absolutely magnificent occasion. It has been an absolute pleasure to have been here and an honour to have seen the march.”

Lieutenant Colonel James E R Rhodes said: “It has been a fantastic opportunity for us to not only take part in the Abbey 900 celebrations but also exercise the Regiment’s right to the freedom of the town.

“This is my last day in command and I’m very lucky to be able to take part in such a prestige event and lead the regiment through Cirencester.”

2nd Lieutenant Tom Rushby said: “It has been a very proud moment, and I’m very grateful to receive thanks from everyone in the local area.”