Belfast Telegraph

Photos: Royal Reception as 2 Rifles Battalion return home from Iraq

The parade was attended by HRH the Earl of Wessex

A large crowd turned out in Lisburn City Centre on Friday for the Homecoming Parade of the 2 Rifles.

The battalion was returning from a six-month tour of Iraq. 

There was an Inspection and Salute in the city centre in the presence of the HRH the Earl of Wessex, Royal Colonel of the 2 Rifles.

The Council said it was delighted with the Royal Visit, which is the first royal visit to Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council.

In attendance were the Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie CVO OBE; the High Sheriff of County Antrim, Mrs Gillian Bingham; Major General Jones OBE; Brigadier John Swift OBE Commander 38 (Irish) Brigade; Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Neil Bellamy Commanding Officer (CO) 2nd Battalion, The Rifles (2 Rifles); Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council Elected Members, its Chief Executive, Dr Theresa Donaldson and members of the public.

Prior to the Parade, the Council hosted a Homecoming Reception at Lagan Valley Island for the 2 Rifles in the early part of Friday morning. HRH the Earl of Wessex was welcomed where he met invited guests and was accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant Mrs Joan Christie CVO OBE and Mayor, Councillor Tim Morrow.

The Homecoming Parade then took place in Lisburn city centre with around 500 servicemen, complete with the Band of the Rifles.

The Mayor, Councillor Tim Morrow paid tribute to the soldiers on their return home.

“It was an honour to welcome the Earl to Lagan Valley Island and to Lisburn," he said.

"I was very pleased to welcome our serving troops to Lagan Valley Island following their recent return from Iraq.  We of course respect their bravery, camaraderie, and dedication to duty.  It is for these very reasons that it was a privilege to welcome 2 Rifles today."

Lt Col Neil Belamy, Commanding Officer 2 Rifles, said they received a great reception.

“To be invited to parade through the streets of our home city of Lisburn is a great honour for all of the riflemen of the battalion and for me personally as the Commanding Officer.

“The unit has recently returned from Operation ‘SHADER’ in Iraq and this weekend is the perfect opportunity to come together and celebrate being a unit with our local community.

“Lisburn has been our home for a few years and we have been made to feel very welcomed. We have forged great relationships and the high point of this for me will be Friday when we get to parade through our home town in front of all of our friends.”

Councillor Scott Carson, Chairman of the Council’s Corporate Services Committee thanked the 2 Rifles for their service.

“The Council appreciates the dedication and achievements of all our service personnel and we were delighted to have the opportunity to see our returning troops parade through Lisburn in such glorious sound and colour. Lisburn has a long and respected history with the Armed Forces and we greatly appreciate their work, training and the service brought across the world for Queen and country.”

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