UK: Ledbury Welcomes HMS Ledbury Crew
The last time the people of Ledbury showed their appreciation of the men and women in the ship which carries the town’s name around the world it was ‘chucking it down’.
But when sailors from HMS Ledbury returned to Herefordshire to parade through the historic market town, the gods were smiling on them.
Around 1,000 people – that’s one in ten Ledburians – lined the streets to applaud the ship’s company who were exercising their right of freedom of the borough.
The visit to the small town, between Hereford and Gloucester, was the highlight of a six-day visit to the West Country by the Portsmouth-based minehunter.
The ship herself cannot negotiate the River Leadon; she berthed 40 miles away in Bristol for the duration of the stay.
She was joined for the last stretch of her passage to Bristol – a short hop from Avonmouth to Arnolfini in the heart of the city’s rejuvenated harbour district – by Ledbury’s Mayor Cllr Allen Conway.
Once the minehunter was alongside, there were more guests to host: 40 VIPs who were treated to tours of the vessel, given an insight into life aboard and what the ship’s company do day-to-day.
For ordinary Ledbury folk, buses were laid on the next day so they could look around (the gangway was also opened for Bristolians to wander aboard for a tour too), and Sea Cadets from Ross and Monmouth, plus members of the Ledbury Hunt (for whom the warship is named) and Hereford Royal Naval Association were invited to look around the RN’s oldest operational vessel.
Meanwhile in Ledbury…
In addition to the freedom parade (surprisingly, despite the ship’s longevity, only bestowed as recently as 2007) on Saturday morning, which saw Lady Darnley, Herefordshire’s Lord Lieutenant take the salute, there was a clash on the football field between a select XI from the minehunter and Ledbury Town, and a reception for the ship’s company so townsfolk could thank the sailors for their deeds around the world.
The crew have been aboard the ship for the past eight months and are preparing the vessel for a deployment with a NATO minehunting force in January, so a few days with their affiliated town was a very welcome break from lots of training.
Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Tony Williams said:
“The strong links that have been forged over the ship’s 30 years of service have been a great source of support when we’re away from home on operations around the world,”
Source: royalnavy, September 9, 2011;