HMS Defender will take part in military parade through Exeter city centre
Published: 18 January 2023
HMS Defender will exercise its Freedom of the City next month with a parade through Exeter city centre.
The parade, which includes His Majesty’s Band of the Royal Marines, veterans and cadets, takes place on Saturday 11 February, starting at 12 noon.
A VIP reception for guests will also take place in the Historic Guildhall.
HMS Defender is Exeter’s affiliated ship. Launched in 2009, it is a state-of-the-art destroyer, and was given the Freedom of the City of Exeter in 2014.
Last summer, the then Commanding Officer Commander George Storton made a visit to Exeter and expressed how much he and his crew were looking forward to marching through the city.
Cdr Storton met the Lord Mayor of Exeter Cllr Yolonda Henson and Council Leader Phil Bialyk and others at the Historic Guildhall and explained the Ship’s recent deployments and its current state of readiness to respond as required.
Lord Mayor Cllr Henson said the parade on 11 February will be a very special occasion. She said: “I am very much looking forward to welcoming back the crew of HMS Defender to Exeter.
“The City has a strong affection for its affiliated Ship and we have been looking forward to this parade since the granting of Freedom of the City in 2014.”
In November Cdr Storton was relieved by Cdr Peter Evans, handing over in Gibraltar and returning the Ship to the UK for some recovery from Operations. Cdr Evans said:
“HMS Defender has maintained a close connection with Exeter, which we established when the ship commissioned in 2013. It was a real privilege for the Ship’s Company to march through the city at the last Freedom of the City event in 2014. HMS Defender is preparing for a planned refit period in 2024 and so this is a great time to re-affirm our strong affiliation with the City.
“Last year we invited all our affiliates for a day at sea which proved a real success and showed how important it is to foster these links; inviting our affiliates to see what our “day job” is like, whilst reminding the Ship’s Company our work is valued and celebrated is extremely important.
“We’ve kept our Exeter links alive through visits, newsletters and we also still play in the Exeter FC football kit all around the world on our deployments.
“It is a rare opportunity for a Royal Navy ship to exercise the Freedom of a City and to be allowed to march, makes our planned day in Exeter extra special for me and the crew. We are really looking forward to the day, meeting the great people of Exeter and further exploring the city.”
A civic party including the Lord Mayor, Lord Lieutenant, Naval Regional Commander Royal Marines Brigadier Jock Fraser and the Commanding Officer from HMS Defender will take the salute at the Historic Guildhall at around 12.10pm.
An inspection will then take place outside Exeter Cathedral during which His Majesty’s Band of the Royal Marines, Lympstone, will perform.