The Royal Anglian Regiment was granted the Freedom of the City of Gibraltar on Saturday at the Garrison Library, a place Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said was well placed to trace the development of the relationship between Britain and Gibraltar.
The special ceremony of conferment by the Mayor of Gibraltar Adolfo Canepa, said Mr Picardo, had seen British Gibraltarians proudly host the bestowment of a “singular honour on a British Regiment” and one which has “played a full part in keeping our Rock British”.
Mr Picardo, told the Colonel of the Royal Anglian Regiment, Lieutenant General Phil Jones, in Gibraltar for the occasion and representing the Royal Anglian Regiment, as well as the Governor Lt Gen Edward Davis, MPs, guests and local dignitaries, how through the past 300 years Gibraltar had been British by conquest “it has been British through legal cession in perpetuity and is today British by consent, by desire and in partnership with the British people of the Rock”.
“That is the maturity that we celebrate today as Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar congratulates the Royal Anglian Regiment on the receipt of this highest Parliamentary honour,” added the Chief Minister.
Reflecting on the Motion to bestow this Freedom, he said, had arisen following research carried out by Manuel Infante whom he paid tribute to and commended him for his diligence on behalf of the people of Gibraltar.
“I sincerely believe that this Freedom will be well received at Gibraltar Barracks, the home of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Anglians. Similarly, I know that the People of Gibraltar will be very much looking forward to watching the Royal Anglians March in exercise of their Freedom next May,” he acknowledged.
On the day the Freedom Scroll was signed by the Mayor of Gibraltar and presented to the Colonel of the Royal Anglian Regiment. The ceremony saw the participation of the band and buglars of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.
Meanwhile the ceremony also saw the presentation of a restored Royal Gibraltar Regiment Drum funded by the Friends of Gibraltar Heritage Society. The Drum, was originally donated by the Royal Anglian Regiment.
Making the presentation to the Commanding Officer of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, Ivor Lopez, Membership Secretary Friends of Gibraltar, Commodore Richard Lord, spoke of the unique occasion.
“I say that The Friends of Gibraltar Heritage Society are delighted to fund projects associated with Gibraltar, its history, peoples and structures. This is indeed the first line of the objects of our society. At a Ceremony of the Keys in 1969, the first in presence of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Varyl Begg, and following an alliance between the Royal Anglian Regiment and the Gibraltar Regiment, which had been approved by the Queen, the gift of the Drum was a token of the special relationship which the 2nd Battalion developed during their tour.”
The Drum, he said, had been presented by the Commanding Officer of the Royal Anglian Regiment, Lt Col Akehurst, who was to become General Sir John Bryan Akehurst, to the Commanding Officer of the Gibraltar Regiment who was Lt Col Pop Gareze. In the handover ceremony, he told all present, the Drum was finally passed to Drummer Lance/Corporal Richard Labrador undergoing his National Service at the time.
“The Drum had been one of seven that were originally the property of the Northamptonshire Regiment. This one was especially retained to hand over to the Gibraltar Regiment. Over the years the drum found its way into a store room. Then last year Richard Labrador worked together with Major Ian Martinez to locate it. This then led to its restoration.
“The Friends were delighted to fund this. We have been told that it will reside in Grand Battery House for the public to view. For the Friends, we are delighted that this historical item will now be on show for many years and help demonstrate the liaison between the Royal Anglian Regiment and the Friends of Gibraltar with the Royal Gibraltar Regiment,” he added.
The friends are also working on a number of other projects locally including funding the restoration of the Franciscan Frescoes in The Convent, will fund the restoration of some graves in Witham’s Cemetery, donating a post graduate student bursary scheme to the University of Gibraltar and have also initiated a History of Gibraltar Award to both Comprehensive Schools.