“Magnificent” Diss has been praised by the Royal Anglian Regiment for the support shown by the town during the 1st Battalion’s freedom parade last Wednesday.
In a letter sent to the Diss Express and various Diss dignitaries, Lt Col Kevin Hodgson, the regimental secretary, thanked Diss Town Council and the town’s residents on behalf of the regiment for the warm welcome given to the 115 troops and 35 band members in what some have called Diss’ proudest day in living memory.
Lt Col Hodgson said the soldiers’ lasting memory of a “truly great day” was the sight of up to 8,000 people thronging the parade route along Mere Street, Market Place and St Nicholas Street to cheer on the troops, who returned from their latest deployment in Afghanistan last month.
The banner that greeted the soldiers on their arrival, hanging between buildings at the bottom of Mere Street, is now going to take up residence in the regiment’s gymnasium in Wiltshire.
Diss mayor Graham Minshull is hoping to establish firm links between the regiment and the town now that the former has been given the freedom honour.
Mr Minshull is meeting with the regiment in the coming weeks, and is hopeful it will play some part in Diss’ 2013 carnival.
Meanwhile, those wanting something beyond memories and photographs to remember the historic day have the chance to purchase one of the commemorative pint glasses produced for the parade and given to the troops as a token of the town’s thanks.
The glass features the logos of the town council and the Royal Anglian Regiment, along the words “The Royal Anglian Regiment Diss Freedom of the Town Parade 7th November 2012.”
The keepsake will soon be available to buy for the sum of £3 from the town council’s office in Market Hill, the Waterfront Inn in Mere Street, The White Horse pub in Market Hill, or from the Diss Tourist Information Centre in Mere Street.
Proceeds from the sale of the pint glasses will go to the Royal Anglian Regiment Benevolent Charity, which was set up to help serving and former members of the regiment.
The charity is already set to receive nearly £1,000 raised by collectors lining the parade route on the day.
Photographs of the parade and the scroll given to the troops are also due to be put up in Diss Museum to commemorate the day.