On Friday 14 July, Andover town centre will be set to welcome residents and visitors to watch the Test Valley Freedom Parade.
Service personnel from 22 Engineer Regiment and the Tidworth Army Band will exercise the Freedom of Test Valley in a special display of ceremony and tradition. The event will also be an opportunity to welcome home 3 Armoured Engineer Squadron, who have recently returned from six months in Estonia on Operation CABRIT.
The freedom of the borough is the highest award that the council can bestow. Those granted the freedom can march through the streets with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing. This will be the second occasion that the parade has taken place in Andover, following the inaugural event in 2016.
This year’s parade will commence from outside the Wilko’s store on Bridge Street at 6pm, before travelling up the High Street where the troops will assemble in front of the Guildhall. A formal inspection will be conducted by the Lord Lieutenant, Major General Richard Clements, Director of Army Basing and Infrastructure, and the Mayor for Test Valley before the Lord Lieutenant will conduct a speech and Reverend Bradish will bless the troops.
Families will be welcomed to attend the event from 5pm on the day, where there will be refreshments available in the High Street including locally roasted coffee, freshly cooked pizza, street food and a selection of drinks from Andover Tap. Children will also have the opportunity to have their face painted for free.
To allow the parade to take place safely, Bridge Street will be closed for a short period of time whilst the troops march through to the High Street. The road will reopen for vehicles after the parade reaches the Guildhall.
Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North said: “This year’s parade will be a great opportunity for local residents to come together and thank our Armed Forces and their families for everything they do to keep us safe, particularly those regiments granted freedom of the borough.
“In addition to the parade there will be other activities for families to enjoy in the town and I hope as many people as possible come along to watch the parade.”
Major Kevan Cameron, 22 Engineer Regiment said: “The Borough of Test Valley is always extremely supportive of the Armed Forces, so it is a huge honour for 22 Engineer Regiment to exercise the Freedom of Test Valley on Friday 14 July. It is important to recognise the achievements of our Officers and Soldiers as they return from operations in Estonia and to so amongst their families and friends in Andover is a real privilege.”
Following the parade, visitors will be able to stay in the town centre to enjoy the evening’s offerings of local street food, drinks and children’s face painting, which will be available until around 8pm.
Test Valley Freedom Parade, Friday 14 July 2023, 5pm to 8pm (the parade will take place between 6pm – 7pm).