Royal marines based at RMB Chivenor have been officially awarded the Freedom of Barnstaple.
Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Aldeiy Alderson accepted the honour on behalf of the Commando Logistic Regiment at the traditional fair opening ceremony on Wednesday week.
The distinction, presented by Mayor Barnstaple Ian Roome at a fair luncheon held at the Barnstaple Hotel, was agreed by Barnstaple Town Council at a meting in July.
It gives all ranks of the regiment the freedom to march through the streets of Barnstaple on all ceremonial occasions with bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing.
The honour was granted in recognition of ‘the historical connections of the Commando Logistic Regiment, RMB Chivenor and the special relationship between the Commando Logistic Regiment, Barnstaple Town Council and its community’.
At the same luncheon, more than £4,500 was pledged to the fundraising campaign for a new cancer and wellbeing centre at North Devon District Hospital following an emotional appeal by terminally ill cancer nurse Laura Harris.
Laura, 42 from Barnstaple, spoke about her own battle with cancer and said the new centre was ‘vital’ for patients in North Devon, prompting guests to dig deep and contribute to the hospital’s Over and Above appeal.
The Showmen’s Guild pledged an additional £1,000 to the £500 it had already presented to Laura with David Rowland of Rowlands Fun Fair. Mr Rowland also pledged an additional £1,000, while other £1,000 donations were made by Mark Parkhouse, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Devon, and Barnstaple transport boss Bill Hockin.
The presentations followed Barnstaple’s ancient fair proclamation in the Guildhall, a first delivered by new town clerk Rob Ward.
Among those proposing toasts at this year’s event were Mark Parkhouse, North Devon councillor Joe Tucker, archaeological consultant Emily Wapshott and Keith Burley, managing director of Blue Elephant Childcare.
WATCH: For the first time ever, the Gazette filmed the entire opening ceremony at the Guildhall, broadcasting the fair proclamation live on the internet. You can watch the video here.