The first conferring of the Freedom of the Borough of Mid and East Antrim is set to be to the respected B (North Irish Horse) Squadron The Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Mayor Councillor Billy Ashe, speaking before the January 30 ceremony, said: “This is the highest accolade and honour any council can bestow on any group or individual.
“The Mid and East Antrim towns of Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne have a proud military tradition, with close links between the military services and the people.
“By conferring the Freedom of the Borough on North Irish Horse we are honouring the service and dedication of the present regiment and those that have served in the past.”
Councillor Ashe said the ceremony “will be marked with civic celebrations and include a special parade and march-past by members of the regiment through the historic seaside town of Carrickfergus”.
Colonel Dr Melfort, Regiment Honorary Colonel, The Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry, said they are “deeply honoured to have been recognised by the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council” and appreciate “the significance of being the first recipients of the Freedom of the Borough”.
“The North Irish Horse has a distinguished record of service that continues today as part of The Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry,” he added.
“This public recognition from the borough council affords us an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by our forbearers and serves as an acknowledgement of the continued support from the public that is critical to the success of both the regiment and the Army reserve as a whole.”
While the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry is one of the newest regiments in the British Army, the North Irish Horse was established following the Boer War.
It has since had a long and distinguished history, particularly when, in 1941, it was equipped with Churchill Tanks during the Second World War.
These were designed and produced by Harland and Wolff, who had one of their factories on the Woodburn Road, Carrickfergus.
A restored tank from that era is now on permanent display at the town’s Marine Gardens.
The tank was used as the backdrop for the launch event, where the mayor welcomed serving personnel from B (North Irish Horse) Squadron, Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry.
Guest of honour at the ceremony will be the Lord Lieutenant for Co Antrim, Joan Christie, OBE, who is the Queen’s official representative.
She will take the salute at the parade and march-past at 3.30pm, following the official ceremony.