One of the unexpected benefits of being a Reservist is that there are opportunities for certain events or training that I’d not had during my Regular service. One such event occurred in late April, at the Presentation of Colours to my new Reserve unit. For those not familiar with Regimental Colours, these are essentially the most sacred symbol of a Regiment’s history, honour and heritage and take the form of handmade, ornate flags. Traditionally they were issued to a Regiment once they were deemed combat effective, and were acted as a rallying point in the heat of battle.
My Unit, 4th Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, (4PWRR) only formed late in 2017. Due to COVID (twice) and the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, our Colours Presentation had been postponed three times before. So it was a huge relief and source of pride that in April, we finally managed to complete the parade, and receive our Colours.
After many (many) nights of drill practice, the Battalion formed up at Woolwich Barracks in London. I’d never been part of a parade with such importance, and with Royalty before. Crown Prince Frederik, on behalf of PWRR’s Colonel in Chief, his mother, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, would be presenting the Colours.
The Friday night before the parade was spent fettling dress uniform, and a rehearsal lit by minibus headlights until the early hours. After not enough sleep we were up again for a full scale dress rehearsal. I was selected to be part of the welcome team, to greet the Royal motorcade and open the doors for the VIP. I never thought I’d have to spend an hour practicing synchronised car door opening, but Military life throws up all sorts of tasks!
The practise paid off, and after the crispest salute I’d ever given on welcoming the Royal party, it was time to join the main parade. The parade itself went perfectly, and after the obligatory Regimental photos, the rest of the day was ours to enjoy some well-deserved food, drinks and entertainment (and sleep!). Having been one of the few founder soldiers from the formation of 4 PWRR it was a day full of pride and an honour to be part of.
June saw Armed Forces and Reserve Forces days roll around for 2023. For Reserves day it was a privilege to represent Allan Webb at a SSAFA event, held at the Honourable Artillery Company Barracks in London. It was an opportunity for networking with other Companies, and the Reservists that they employ, as well as SSAFA staff and case workers and the support that can offer to both Regular and Reserve Soldiers.
Back in uniform for Armed Forces day. This consisted of a display of the some of my Unit’s Weapons and Equipment, held over the weekend in two local towns, forming part of their own AFD celebrations. Both were hugely successful, with interest and engagement from the local communities. Our stand featured the range of Infantry personal and Section weapons, specialist equipment and a Land Rover. We worked alongside Veteran’s Association and local Cadet Units to showcase Army life and ethos, and were warmly received at both events.