It has been 10 years since the Freedom of the Borough was granted to The Royal Welsh in recognition of their service.

And it was a real honour to join soldiers of the Royal Welsh as they marched through Pontypool to celebrate the reaffirmation of their Freedom of the Borough.

Members of the regiment, together with Gwent and Army Cadet Force and veterans, paraded through the town in full regalia, accompanied by a military band, and their famous goat mascot, Shenkin IV. It was a real sight to see.

The parade started at the top of Crane Street and the reaffirmation service took place in front of the memorial gates, next to the library. After the ceremony there was also a free Forces Fun Day at Pontypool Park, organised by Torfaen Council, which featured representatives from the Royal Artillery, Royal Navy, Royal Welsh, military vehicles, face painting and a gladiator obstacle course.

Our armed forces have a special place in our history, and our soldiers still play a vital role today. It’s right that their work and effort is recognised and honoured in this way.

Last summer, the council also awarded the Royal British Legion the Freedom of the Borough in recognition of its charitable work and support of ex-servicemen and women within the borough

The Freedom of the Borough is the highest honour a local authority can award any individual or organisation.

The tradition of boroughs conferring the freedom goes back to ancient times when the Royal Charter Boroughs were almost, if not entirely, self-governing. Originally, such conferment conveyed special privileges of various kinds upon the recipient that could involve the right to vote, property and local taxation benefits.

Today, the conferment is purely honorary. Those honoured with Freedom of the Borough have no special rights but the tradition is maintained as way of recognising the high esteem in which recipients are held.

I am sure that we have all become much more aware of the power of community as a result of covid, so it was great to see people come out to mark the occasion and to join in the celebrations.

Such community moments are not just a chance for us to celebrate others but they are also a chance to enjoy each other’s company.

I hope you have plenty of opportunities over the summer to be with those you love.