More than 200 soldiers from The 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery will march through the streets of Hexham in November to receive the Freedom of Northumberland. Residents are being asked to put the date in their diaries now so they can turn up and give the soldiers the very warm welcome they deserve.

The Regiment, which is based at Albermarle Barracks, led by the regimental band, will march through the town on Saturday 12 November to accept the accolade - the county’s highest civic honour. Starting from Wentworth Car Park at 1.30pm the parade will travel along Priestpopple onto Beaumont Street where there will be an inspection and short ceremony.

Councillor  Alan Sambrook, Civic Head  for Northumberland County Council said:  “This will be a fantastic  event for Hexham and the people of Northumberland. We hope local residents will line the route and give our troops a very warm Northumberland welcome and show their appreciation for all that they do as they receive this great honour.”

Granting the freedom is an ancient honour given to military  organisations, allowing them the privilege to march through the streets  ‘with drums beating, colours  flying, and bayonets fixed.’

The honour dates back to the laws of ancient Rome which made it a capital offence for Roman legions to enter the city in formation or with weapons without permission. The law was in place to ensure that ambitious generals did not mount a military coup.

However military  groups that had given heroic service or whose honour was beyond question, could be granted Freedom of the City: the group would not have to disarm or break ranks before the city gates were opened to them and, given the serious risk the city would be running, this was a rare honour.