Military parade to march through Exeter city centre to celebrate HMS Defender

PHOTOS: Exeter celebrates as warship HMS Defender enjoys freedom of the city honour

Exeter is gearing up to host a military parade when HMS Defender marches through the city centre, granted Freedom of the City.

The parade, at 12noon on Saturday February 11, will include the His Majesty’s Band of the Royal Marines, veterans and cadets, plus a reception in the Historic Guildhall for invited guests.

A civic party including the Lord Mayor, Lord Lieutenant, Naval Regional Commander Royal Marines Brigadier Jock Fraser and the Commanding Officer from HMS Defender will take the salute at the Guildhall at around 12.10pm.

An inspection will follow outside Exeter Cathedral, where His Majesty’s Band of the Royal Marines will perform.

HMS Defender is Exeter’s affiliated ship. It launched in 2009 and is described as a ‘state-of-the-art destroyer’. It was given the Freedom of the City of Exeter in 2014.

Lord Mayor Cllr Yolanda Henson said the parade promised to be ‘a very special occasion’, adding: “I am very much looking forward to welcoming back the crew of HMS Defender to Exeter.

“The city has a strong affection for its affiliated ship and we have been looking forward to this parade since the granting of Freedom of the City in 2014.”

Commander Peter Evans said: “HMS Defender has maintained a close connection with Exeter, which we established when the ship commissioned in 2013.

“It was a real privilege for the Ship’s Company to march through the city at the last Freedom of the City event in 2014.

“HMS Defender is preparing for a planned refit period in 2024 and so this is a great time to re-affirm our strong affiliation with the city.”

He added: “Last year we invited all our affiliates for a day at sea which proved a real success and showed how important it is to foster these links; inviting our affiliates to see what our ‘day job’ is like, while reminding the Ship’s Company our work is valued and celebrated is extremely important.”

Cdr Evans said: “We’ve kept our Exeter links alive through visits, newsletters and we also still play in the Exeter FC football kit all around the world on our deployments.

“It is a rare opportunity for a Royal Navy ship to exercise the Freedom of a City and to be allowed to march, makes our planned day in Exeter extra special for me and the crew.

“We are really looking forward to the day, meeting the great people of Exeter and further exploring the city.”

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