Thursday, 10 February 2011

City ships company takes to the streets of Leeds for one last time

Crew from HMS Ark Royal will be taking to the streets of Leeds this weekend as the ships company exercise their right to Freedom of the City of Leeds for the last time before she is decommissioned later this year.

The ship, which is due to be decommissioned in March, has a fond place in the hearts of many a Leeds citizen.

On Saturday 12 February, over 160 sailors from HMS Ark Royal will exercise the privilege of the Freedom of the City, with a parade through the city being lead by over 35 musicians from the Royal Marine Band of Scotland.

The parade will start outside the museum in Millennium Square at 11am and will makes its way through the city and back to the museum where the Lord Mayor will take a salute.

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All media are invited to the parade on Saturday 12 February 2011. The parade will start at Millennium Square at 11am,and finish back at the museum at 11:45am. Officers and spokespeople from both Leeds City Council and HMS Ark Royal will be available for interview on the day.
Please contact Cat Milburn in the press office on 0113 247 4450 for further information.
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The parade will be led by musicians from the Royal Marine Band, based in Scotland and include an Armed Guard, Naval Colour and the Ships Freedom Scroll. The parade is expected to finish around midday when the city will host a reception for the ship’s company in the Civic Hall.

Throughout Saturday the crew will also be involved in a number of sporting events, including a football match against Leeds University at the playing fields, a rugby match at Moortown Rugby Club and a netball match held at the university campus. All the events are open to the public, with the football and rugby matches starting at 3pm and Netball starting at 4pm. Create, one of the Lord Mayor’s charities for this year is kindly providing the food for the sporting events.

Leeds’ association with the famous aircraft carrier stems back to World War II and the third Ark Royal, which was adopted by the city in 1942. Various fundraising efforts were completed to raise money to replace the original sunken ship, and the city of Leeds put in a huge fundraising effort and raised £9million, which in today’s terms works out at around £300 million.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Jim McKenna said:
“It will be wonderful to see the many people involved in HMS Ark Royal’s company coming to march in the city of Leeds.

“The day will be one of great celebration with the Ship's Company exercising their Right of Freedom of the City but one of sadness too with the decommissioning of the Ship.

“The ship has always had a firm place in the hearts of the people of Leeds and I am very much looking forward to meeting the Commanding Officer and Ship's Company on Saturday.”

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“It is fantastic that the crew of HMS Ark Royal are exercising the right to Freedom of the City. The ship has a huge place in the hearts of the people of Leeds, and will be sorely missed when she is decommissioned later this year.

“After adopting the ship in 1942 the city of Leeds really put their hearts and souls into raising an enormous sum of money to ensure that a replacement ship could be put into commission.”

Captain Jerry Kyd said:

“The strong association that Ark Royal has maintained since the Second World War with the city of Leeds is immensely important. It is a real pleasure to be able to mark these historic and strong links with a parade through our city and attend the reception in the Civic Hall. I hope that one day a future Ark Royal will once again have the privilege of this special affiliation with the great city of Leeds.

“Ark Royal has played a very important role throughout her history and we have always been lucky enough to draw great affection and support from the British public wherever we go, in particular from the City of Leeds,” continued Captain Kyd.

“I have been exceptionally proud to serve as her Captain – my very first job after finishing my initial officer training 25 years ago at Dartmouth was in the then brand new HMS Ark Royal. It is therefore a great honour for me to be her last Captain and to have attended the recent Remembrance Service in the City of Leeds in November last year.”

“I am only too aware that this famous ship and her iconic name mean a great deal to many people, but although Ark Royal will be decommissioned, the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers currently under construction are vastly more capable and will provide the Royal Navy with an exciting future.”

Notes to editors:

The parade will commence at 11am outside Leeds City Museum in Millennium Square. The Parade will leave Cookridge Street and cross over Great George Street, then left up The Headrow to the junction with Vicar Lane. It will then turn right on to Vicar Lane, right up King Edward Street, then right on to Briggate. At the top of Briggate it will turn left and head down The Headrow to the junction with Park Row and then turn right on to Cookridge Street, pass across Great George Street and the Lord Mayor will then take the Salute.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450