A grey February morning, a Friday in Esher, Surrey like any other. Except this Friday was different, we were going to have a parade.
For the past 135 years there has been a horse racing course in the town, Sandown Park. One of the traditional winter meetings is the Royal Artillery Gold Cup Day. The Royal Artillery Gold Cup has an unusual entry requirement. Only horses that are owned or leased by those who are serving, or have served, in the the Royal Artillery are eligible to compete.
There has been a feeling in the country at large that not enough recognition has been given to the Armed Forces who serve us bravely, whatever we think of the conflicts that they have been sent to. Overstretched by mendacious politicians, under equipped by a wasteful and bureaucratic procurement process, the military have paid the price for these shortcomings with their lives.
The citizens of a small town in Wiltshire, Wootten Bassett, gave an expression of respect for the sacrifices of the Armed Forces by their informal public mourning. This is held as hearses carrying the bodies of service men and women killed in Afghanistan and Iraq pass through the town after repatriation.
This has inspired others to find some means of showing their gratitude. Someone in Esher had the bright idea last year of organising a march in honour of members of the Royal Artillery just returned from a tour of duty in Helmand Province. It was popular, so yesterday saw a repeat performance. Those regiments that took part in the march included, The Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery, The Royal Artillery Band, Marching troops from various Royal Artillery Regiments and the Royal Artillery Pipes & Drums.
The town turned out on the High Street to applaud the soldiers and wave Union Jacks. It was very understated, very British and very sincere. The beneficiary of collections made during the morning was the excellent Help for Heroes.
I took a camera along and recorded some of the parade:
I know it has nothing to do with motor cars, I do not care. My blog, my rules
John Brooks, February 2011