Liverpool Parachute Regimental Association to receive Freedom of the City on Sunday 24th October at the city’s Parish Church.
The organisation – formed in the late 1950s of World War Two veterans – will be awarded the Freedom Roll of Associations and Institutions for its work to promote opportunities for veterans to continue the links and friendships made during their service with the regiment and airborne forces.
They hold monthly meetings, functions, visits, Remembrance Services, Armed Forces days and an annual church service at Liverpool Parish Church, as well as providing welfare and support to those members and their families who are in need.
The Liverpool branch is now one of the largest and biggest military associations in the city, with a board of trustees and members from all areas of Merseyside and a wide variety of professions including the emergency services, teaching and civil servants.
It has regular contact with its national headquarters, the Royal British Legion, military charitable organisations and supports St Mary’s College Crosby CCF (Combined Cadet Force).
Its parent organisation – the Parachute Regiment – has a long relationship with Liverpool and in 1953 the 13th (Lancashire) Battalion of the Regiment received their Colours from Field Marshall Montgomery outside St George’s Hall on Lime Street.
In March 2012 the Freedom of Liverpool was conferred on the 4th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, whose origins can be traced back to 1942.
Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Mary Rasmussen, said: “I am delighted to be awarding Freedom of the City to the Liverpool branch of the Parachute Regimental Association.
“Their work with veterans who sacrificed so much to keep us safe is absolutely vital in helping support them when they leave the Armed Forces.
“The experiences they live through stay with them for life, so it is really important they are able to stay in touch with those who they worked alongside.
“Through our own work supporting services leavers through the Armed Forces Community Covenant, we know first-hand of the excellent work carried out by the organisation and how much it is valued by its members.”
President of Liverpool Parachute Regimental Association, Joe Harkon, said:
“The Parachute Regimental Association, Liverpool Branch are delighted and humbled to be awarded the Freedom of the City from the Lord Mayor of Liverpool. Origins of our branch can be traced back to Airborne veterans both regular and reserve who saw action across a range of key battles of WWII and our oldest member is currently an Arnhem veteran.
“We have many members who also served in more recent conflicts including Suez, Cyprus, Borneo, Aden, Northern Ireland, The Falklands, Kosovo, Balkans, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The Parachute Regimental Association (PRA) was formed at the end of the Second World War to further the interests of The Parachute Regiment and to organise functions and activities so members could continue associations formed during their service with the Regiment and Airborne Forces.
“We are a very active branch and in partnership with local charities provide welfare and support to members serving who have served and their dependents. We regularly attend both formal and social events and have more recently took part in the memorial parachute jump on the 75th Anniversary of the battle of Arnhem – ‘Operation Marked Garden’ into Holland.
“We will continue to support our veterans and the work with our partner agencies, charities and the communities of Liverpool to promote our ethos. Our branch regularly welcomes new members from the Regiment and Airborne Forces as well as honorary members.”
The Rector of Liverpool, the Revd Canon Dr Crispin Pailing, said:
“Our region has always supported the armed forces, just as they have supported us when there has been need.
“I’m delighted that the City is honouring the Parachute Regimental Association as they gather for their annual service at Liverpool Parish Church.
“Their members are drawn from across our communities and so the Freedom ceremony will be meaningful to people across Liverpool.”
The ceremony will take place at 2.00pm during the branch’s annual service at Liverpool Parish Church.