Huge crowds lined the streets of Melton this morning (Friday) to cheer and applaud military personnel and their animals as they paraded through town to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC).
The overnight storm clouds had cleared by the time the event started, with warm sunshine greeting the party as they marched along with people standing five deep in places on Market Place.
The Melton parade, which was led by the Chief Veterinary Officer, Colonel Neil Smith, featured more than 200 officers and soldiers from the town’s Defence Animal Training Regiment (DATR) and the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, based at St George’s Barracks, North Luffenham.
They were accompanied by a mounted contingent of up to 25 riders, some of them wearing authentic First World War uniforms, and 16 military working dogs and their handlers from the RAVC, with the Band of the Royal Corps of Signals accompanying them.
Also in the party were members of the RAVC Association and the Melton Branch of the Royal British Legion.
And warm applause greeted the sight of two riders in First World War uniform, smoking pipes and accompanied by a horse ambulance, general service wagon and pack mule from the conflict a century ago.
The army has had a long association with Melton since the remount depot was established on Asfordby Road in 1905 and horses and dogs have been trained at the DATR since 1946.
The RAVC has been granted the freedom of the town and it was exercising its right with today’s parade in an event which also marked the former Army Veterinary Corps being awarded the royal prefix in 1918 after its personnel proved their worth by treating more than one million horses during the First World War.
The party formed at Melton Livestock Market before heading down Scalford Road at 10.50am and into Nottingham Road, where cheering crowds lined up all along the street.
People stood four or five deep in Market Place as the parade moved through the town centre, with the salute being taken by the Colonel Commandant of the RAVC, Major General Roly Walker in front of a seated group of VIPs, including Mayor of Melton, Councillor Pru Chandler.
The Band of the Army Medical Corps were playing in the Market Place during the event.
The parade party continued on down Leicester Street and into Wilton Road before making their way back to the livestock market to be dismissed.
Shops and businesses dressed their windows in the RAVC regimental colours of maroon, dark blue and gold for the event, including Michelle’s Veg Patch, RR Accounting, Fairtrading Post, Foxy Lots, JDRM Dental Care and Graham Coe Opticians.
And floral displays around the town displayed the colours, with a large planting at the town estate’s Memorial Gardens.
The celebration was organised in conjunction with a number of agencies and organisations, including Melton Council and Leicestershire Police, who managed traffic with a number of rolling road closures.