Hundreds brave the wind and rain to cheer on Barnstaple homecoming parade.

TROOPS from the 1st Battalion The Rifles have marched through Barnstaple to exercise their Freedom of the Town for the first time.

Hundreds of people braved the wind and rain on Sunday morning to watch the parade, led by the Salamanca Band and accompanied by the Army Cadet Force and the Old Comrades Association.

Based at Chepstow, in Monmouthshire, the ranks of 1st Battalion include a number of North Devonians, and for many, the march along the Strand and High Street marked a real homecoming parade. The battalion returned from Afghanistan in December and is preparing for deployment to Kenya this week.

After an inspection in the Pannier Market by Mayor of Barnstaple, Councillor Ian Roome, troops enjoyed beer and pasties supplied by Barum Brewery and East and West Bakery.

Bakery owner Graham Principe presented Brigadier Richard Toomey with a giant cake decorated with the unit’s flag and bugle.

Barnstaple Town Council clerk Anne Jenkins said: “There was a fantastic turnout – it was wonderful that so many people came along as the weather wasn’t that great.”

The Rifles Regiment was formed in 2007 from the amalgamation of The Devon and Dorsets, the Royal Gloucestershire Berkshire and Wiltshires, the Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets.

It consists of five regular and two territorial battalions.

Barnstaple extended the Freedom of the Town to the Devonshire Regiment in 1946 and extended this to the Devon and Dorsets in 1958. It was given to the Rifles following the amalgamation in 2007.

To view more pictures from Sunday’s march, click on the gallery links at the top right of this page. Also, check out local film maker Ryan Martin’s video footage of the event by clicking in the YouTube link above. For more, see www.thatryanmartin.com