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Special and rare award for Yeomen

PUBLISHED: 10:26 07 January 2010 | UPDATED: 17:29 25 August 2010

AN HONOUR is to be given for only a third time in nearly 50 years to a group of sharpshooters. Bexley council announced it is set to give the Freedom of the Borough to 265 (Kent and County of London Yeomanry) Support Squadron (Sharpshooters), who are bas

AN HONOUR is to be given for only a third time in nearly 50 years to a group of sharpshooters.

Bexley council announced it is set to give the Freedom of the Borough to 265 (Kent and County of London Yeomanry) Support Squadron (Sharpshooters), who are based in Bexleyheath.

The honour is the highest that can be made by the council and it is awarded exclusively to those who have "rendered eminent service" to the borough.

It has been awarded only twice in the 44 years since the borough of Bexley came into existence: to the late Sir Edward Heath KG MBE, who served as Prime Minister and represented Old Bexley and Sidcup in Parliament for many years, and to the 17th Depot Regiment Royal Artillery, who are now based in Kent.

Bexley Mayor Bernard Clewes MBE said: "I am delighted that we are planning to award this great honour to the only military unit based in the borough, particularly at a time when members of our armed forces are making such great sacrifices in the service of their country.

"We can all take pride in the professionalism and long tradition of service displayed by all our servicemen and women and we are, of course, particularly proud of those who are based in our borough."

The unit was nominated for the honour by councillors James Hunt and Nigel Betts and the granting of the Freedom of the Borough was supported unanimously by the members of the Council's Civic Recognition Panel. Its recommendation is subject to the approval of the full council. 265 Support Squadron are part of 71 Signal Regiment, whose headquarters are also in Bexleyheath.

Territorials from the unit and its predecessors have served in both world wars and on operations in many parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland.

Through its attachment to the Royal Corps of Signals, the unit provides the British Army with communications and information technology around the world, including combat situations.

Members of the unit are expected to be presented with a certificate recording the granting of the Freedom of the Borough at the Council's annual reception on May 22. The honour will give the unit the "right, privilege, honour and distinction" of marching through the streets of the borough on all ceremonial occasions "with colours flying, bands playing and drums beating".

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