The ceremony to confer the honorary Freedom of Entry to HMS RAMSEY by Ramsey Town Commissioners on April 24 was distinguished by military precision and colourful pageantry.
The event began with a parade formed of an honour guard from HMS RAMSEY and the Castletown Metropolitan Silver Band marching from Market Square along Parliament Street to assemble in Parliament Square in front of Ramsey Town Hall where Ramsey Town Commissioners' chairman Sylvia Beattie and the ship's commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Stephen Brown, received the general salute.
Following Town Clerk Peter Whiteway's reading of the certificate of admission dated December 16 2009, as inscribed in the illuminated address created by local artist Colleen Corlett, Brigadier Norman Butler CBE outlined the meaning of Freedom of Entry. He explained the practice of conferring the privilege on military units dated from the Middle Ages when troops were not allowed to march through a town without permission from the local authority. He said Freedom of Entry granted the right for a unit to enter a town ‘with swords drawn, bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing and colours flying' and that it was a ‘very rare and very special' honour.
Receiving the Freedom of Entry illuminated address from Mrs Beattie Lieutenant Commander Brown expressed his heartfelt thanks to the people of Ramsey for ‘the huge honour' bestowed upon HMS RAMSEY and her company, adding that on board there had been ‘a palpable feeling of excitement building up for the last week.'
He continued: ‘Since the ship was launched 10 years ago she has enjoyed fantastic affiliations with the town.' He said that although having served a long deployment in the Middle East the officers and crew were ‘absolutely positive' their home was in Ramsey and he assured the people of Ramsey that the ship's company would ‘honour the trust bestowed on us by the town.'
In her reply Mrs Beattie spoke of the long association the town had enjoyed with HMS RAMSEY and said the occasion would always be remembered as a ‘key moment in Ramsey's history.'
The ceremony over, an informal reception in the Town Hall provided Lieutenant Commander Brown the opportunity to present Mrs Beattie with a framed set of photographs of HMS RAMSEY signed by every member of the ship's company and a signed copy of The Royal Navy Day by Day, an illustrated record of British naval heritage.
Mrs Beattie then presented Lady Alynne Dunt, the ship's sponsor who had launched HMS RAMSEY on November 25, 1999, with a plaque displaying the Commission's crest.
Other guests included Lady Dunt's husband Vice-Admiral Sir John Dunt KCB,the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Paul Haddacks KCB and Lady Haddacks, and Commodore Dickie Baum, Naval Regional Commander Northern England and Isle of Man.