A NEW memorial was unveiled at the weekend in honour of those who gave their lives in the service of the Ulster Defence Regiment.
A poignant dedication service was held at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire on Saturday, attended by former and serving members of the Armed Forces, relatives of the deceased and senior political representatives.
The six-foot Mourne granite monument recognises the bravery of the 260 personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice throughout the Troubles.
The erection of a permanent tribute in England comes less than a year after an impressive bronze memorial was dedicated in Lisburn to the 50,000 men and women who served in the UDR.
Both initiatives were facilitated by the Regimental Association of the Ulster Defence Regiment.
Association spokesman Charlie Bennett said the latest tribute was funded through public donations and support from various organisations across the UK.
He confirmed as well as the formal dedication service, individual trees were also planted at the arboretum in memory of the 67 ex-soldiers murdered by terrorists after they had resigned from the regiment.
Already 197 have been planted in recognition of the soldiers who lost their lives while serving with the UDR.
The new memorial was unveiled by the patron of the regimental association, Sir Dennis Faulkner.
Saturday’s event was attended by around 100 UDR families, who were joined by the Northern Ireland Minister of State, Hugo Swire, DUP Junior Minister Jonathan Bell and UUP deputy leader John McCallister.
A parade to the monument was led by the band of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment.
Paying tribute to the legacy of the UDR, Mr Bell said: “The service and sacrifice of the Ulster Defence Regiment played a vital role in ensuring that terrorism could be defeated in Northern Ireland.
“That service has ensured that people now can look forward to a more peaceful future.”
The regiment was formed in Lisburn in 1970. A sculpture of a UDR soldier and a Greenfinch was unveiled at the city’s Market Square last June.
The National Memorial Arboretum was created to commemorate all those who have served in the Armed Forces and civilian services since 1948.