February 3, 2022 10.54 am

Freedom Parade will be top Lincoln soldier’s “last flagship event”

The event will take place in Lincoln on Friday

A Lincoln soldier will be responsible for ensuring Friday’s Freedom Parade is carried out in the tradition expected of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, also known as The Poachers.

Around 350 soldiers from The Poachers are rehearsing ahead of their homecoming parade after their return from UN operations in West Africa.

The event will start in the Cornhill area of the city from 1.30pm on Friday, February 4, and will see the arrival of the parade shortly after. A series of rolling road closures and traffic restrictions will be in place for the event – see full details here.

It will be inspected by the Lord Lieutenant of Lincoln Toby Dennis and the Right Worshipful, the Mayor of Lincoln Jackie Kirk.

The Battalion’s top solider, Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) John Rawdon is from Lincoln. He joined the army at aged 16 and Friday’s event will be his final military parade as the RSM before he is promoted to Captain.

This week RSM Rawdon has been leading the rehearsals at Kendrew Barracks, Cottesmore in Rutland where the Battalion is based.

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment will be welcomed back to Lincoln with a Freedom Parade through the city. | Photo: MoD

RSM Rawdon said: “Lincoln is my hometown, and the parade comes at the end of my career as a soldier, so for me it’s a crescendo of 23 years in the battalion.

“It will be the last flagship event that I will be involved in and you don’t get many opportunities as RSM to do things like this.

“We are spending the week practising our drill to ensure we are at the level we want to be. When the band strikes up and we step off, all the soldiers and officers on parade will understand what the hard work has been for. I’m excited and really looking forward to it.”

Kate Fenn, civic and international partnerships manager at City of Lincoln Council, said: “I am delighted that the 2nd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment has chosen to exercise its Freedom of the City of Lincoln, which was first granted in 1946.”

“The city is extremely proud and honoured to welcome back ‘The Poachers’, marking their return home from deployment around the world.”

The Lincolnshire soldiers were deployed for a mission in May 2021. | Photo: MoD

The homecoming parade will see the reunion of the Battalion following its deployment around the world. In the past 12 months the Battalion has completed two six-month UN peacekeeping tours in Mali in West Africa as part of Operation Newcombe.

The first deployment was in December 2020 and included over 70 soldiers from B (Leicestershire) Company. They were followed by over 130 soldiers from A (Lincolnshire) Company and the Battalion’s Headquarters in a second deployment in May 2021.

Soldiers were deployed to Mali in West Africa. | Photo: MoD

While in Mali, the Battalion provided reconnaissance and deterrence, conducting patrols to gather intelligence and engage with the local population helping the UN better understand how to help.

A further forty soldiers deployed on Op Toral in Afghanistan in late 2020, and a further 100 were deployed to Poland on Operation Cabrit in March 2021. Op Cabrit is the codename for the UK’s deployment and contribution to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence.

Some 150 soldiers from D (Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire) Company deployed to Poland to provide the British continence to the US-led battlegroup.