Parade celebrates Airborne Sappers’ 15th anniversary

A parade through Woodbridge today has celebrated the 15th anniversary of 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment.

The Regiment was cheered through the town as it exercised its Freedom of Woodbridge ‘with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing and Colours flying’.

Major General Chris Tickell CBE, Chief Royal Engineer and the Regiment’s founding commanding officer, and Mayor of Woodbridge Councillor David Mortimer took the salute with The Band of The Parachute Regiment setting the event to music.

23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, which has been based at Rock Barracks, Woodbridge since 2006, was formed in 2003 for the Iraq War. The airborne sappers have since deployed on three tours of Afghanistan, supported peacekeeping in the Sinai Peninsula and carried out hurricane relief in the Caribbean.

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Carvel, Commanding Officer of 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, said: “It’s a huge privilege for the Regiment to exercise the Freedom of Woodbridge and it has been a wonderful occasion to mark our fifteenth anniversary. We have a wonderful relationship with Woodbridge and draw strength from the public support received today, and every day from the local community.”

Cllr Mortimer said: “Woodbridge has a long connection with the military and we are massively proud to have the soldiers of 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment and their families as part of the town.”

After the parade, Corporal Joe Lovell was presented with a Chief of the General Staff’s Commendation for giving lifesaving first aid to the victim of a stabbing in Ipswich on the night of 7 April 2017.

Cpl Lovell, 29 from Camden, said: “I was heading back from a night out and saw a fight break out in front of me and a young man got stabbed in the neck three times. It was a stressful situation, but my training took over and I just got involved and did what I could to stop his bleeding.”

The award citation stated: “His actions undoubtedly prevented loss of life that night and were in the highest traditions of the Army.”

23 Para Engr Regt’s anniversary celebrations continue with a free open day at Rock Barracks tomorrow combining a family fun day with a showcase of the regiment’s equipment and skills, such as bridge-building.

The free event is open from 11am to 3pm and will feature the Red Devils Freefall Parachute Display Team, music from The Band of The Parachute Regiment, bouncy castles and children’s activities, BBQs and food-stalls, and on-site parking.