The centre of a Co Down town came to a temporary standstill on Thursday as a troop of Scottish soldiers undertook their first march through their new home.
The Royal Scots Borderers had just officially taken up residence at Palace Barracks on the outskirts of Holywood at the start of September.
An estimated 300 troops paraded through the centre of the seaside settlement during the morning, accompanied by bagpipes, a brass band and applause from onlookers watching the spectacle – a display which “stirs up the blood” according to one long-time resident (A SECOND VIDEO SHOWING ONLOOKERS’ REACTIONS TO THE PARADE IS AVAILABLE HERE).
The central road was closed as the marchers – bearing both Scottish Saltires and the Union Flag – made their way from the barracks to the maypole in the town centre, then turned and marched back, saluting a dais which had been placed outside the library as they passed.
Major Alastair Cuthbertson, his chest adorned with a row of medals, told The News Letter: “It’s a great day for the regiment.
“We’re now in our new home in Palace Barracks and feel its extremely important that we integrate into the local community as quickly as possible – hence we thought it’d be nice to conduct a parade.”
Residents ranging from schoolchildren to senior citizens had turned out for the event, and asked if they planned for more such marches, the major said: “There’ll certainly be more events in the future. We feel it’s very important we get involved with the local community”.
Ken Dunlop, a 62-year-old retired shipyard welder, was among those watching.
He had been a former Army cadet, but stopped short of joining the full-time forces because “the hairy shirts put me off”.
He said: “Fantastic – they were very, very smartly turned out and well-presented.
“It sort of stirs up the blood a bit when you see them, and what they went through – or possibly may have to go through. You feel proud they’re walking through the town of Holywood.”
Denvor Geddis, 39, had come out to spectate with his one-year-old nephew Lorne, and said: “I’m very pleased to see they got such a good welcome.
“It brings everybody out and makes us an active community,” he said, adding: “Just proud to be British”.
The Borderers, also known as 1 Scots, took over from 2nd Battalion The Mercians who left the barracks at the end of August.