24th June 2013: On Saturday Andrew Brons was honoured to have been invited, along with other elected representatives of the citizens of Leeds, to attend the parade of the Rifles Regiment through the streets of Leeds to celebrate its Freedom of the City.
The Regiment – the largest in the British Army – was represented by 3 Rifles and the Band and Bugles of the Rifles.
The Freedom of the City was first conferred on the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in 1945. It became a batallion in the Light Infantry in 1968. In 1979, the Light Infantry inherited the Freedom of the City. In 2007, the Rifles was formed from the Light Infantry, the Royal Green Jackets, the Devon and Dorset Light Infantry and the Royal Berkshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Light Infantry. It has now inherited the Freedom of the City of Leeds.
The ancestor regiment of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Industry was raised in Leeds in 1755. It was originally called the 53rd Regiment of Foot.
Andrew told his website:
"Whilst we do not support the irresponsible military adventurism of the British Government in Afghanistan and (formerly) in Iraq, we have no hesitation in praising the bravery of our service personnel without any qualification.
"There has been some controversy in Leeds about the fact that the Leeds City Council has decided not to celebrate Armed Forces Day next Saturday, the 29th June and regarded the celebration of the Rifles last Saturday as a substitute. However, the empty places on the benches outside the front of the Civic Hall suggested that most elected representatives did not attend.
"I saw one other of the six MEPs representing Yorkshire. but no MPs representing Leeds constituencies. Apart from the Lord Mayor of Leeds, the Council was very poorly represented. When we bear in mind that all three of the so-called main parties must share some responsibility for Afghanistan and Iraq, the absence of most of the representatives of those parties was a disgraceful act of disrespect."