Her Majesty The Queen attends Regimental homecoming medal parade and thanksgiving service at Lichfield Cathedral

Wednesday July 20 2011

 The Dean and Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral, together with the Bishop of Lichfield, took pleasure in welcoming over 600 members, supporters and friends of the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry today. In the presence of Her Majesty The Queen, Colonel in Chief of the Regiment, prayers of thanksgiving were offered for the safe homecoming of the Regiment following their deployment in Afghanistan.

Lichfield Cathedral last welcomed Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh on Maundy Thursday 1988 (31st March). The visit celebrated Maundy Thursday with a commemorative service at the Cathedral, attended by over 2,000 members of the Cathedral community. 

 Today, The Queen was welcomed to Lichfield by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Sir James Hawley KCVO TD JP and local school children from St Joseph’s Primary School. She arrived at Lichfield City train station on the Royal Train. Her Majesty then travelled to the medieval Cathedral Close for the thirty minute service and was accompanied by Sir James Hawley. The Queen was met by the Honorary Colonel of The Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry, Major General Andrew Farquhar CBE DL who escorted Her Majesty to the West Front of Lichfield Cathedral towards the Parade.

Her Majesty was invited by the Regiment’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Acton, to present Afghanistan medals to fifteen members of the Heavy Base ISTAR Division, whilst the Light Cavalry band provided a musical accompaniment.

Following the medal presentation, The Queen was then accompanied to Bishop’s House where the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill and the Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber were presented to Her Majesty.

The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber said of the Royal visit:

 Lichfield Cathedral was honoured to host this great occasion. It gave us a splendid opportunity to provide the setting and occasion when the nation and region could mark and thank the work of the Armed Services in Afghanistan and especially the excellent contribution of the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Regiment. All the Cathedral’s staff, musicians and volunteers, entered into the spirit of today, wanting not only to show Lichfield at its best to The Queen, but to provide the right mixture of grandeur, dignity and warmth to all the members of the Armed Services and their families as they return from a complex and difficult assignment.

We sang well known hymns, we listened to the experience of those involved in active service, we prayed for peace and the struggle to ensure the world’s security, and justice for all the world’s people. We watched the Regiment’s flag carried into Church. To have had our Monarch present at this service was a gracious and fitting affirmation of the hope and thanksgiving central to all that was celebrated today”.  

After signing the Cathedral visitor book at the Bishop’s residence on the South side of The Close, The Queen attended a service of thanksgiving in the nave of Lichfield Cathedral.

As Her Majesty entered the Cathedral, a fanfare was played by military trumpeters (directed by Captain Anthony Adams) from the Friends’ Gallery at the west end of the medieval building, home of the 8th century St Chad Gospels (older than the Book of Kells) and the Lichfield Angel. As the first hymn, Praise My Soul, was sung by the Cathedral Choir and congregation, Her Majesty proceeded to the nave sanctuary, accompanied by Lay Members of the Cathedral Chapter, the Canons Residentiary, the Dean of Lichfield and the Bishop of Lichfield. The service music was led by Director of Music, Ben Lamb.

The Dean began the service by welcoming the RMLY to the Cathedral Church of St Mary and St Chad in Lichfield and offered thanksgiving for and reflected on all that has been experienced by the Regiment.

The Honorary Colonel, Major General Andrew Farquhar then gave a reflective reading from the letter to the Ephesians, followed by a testimony and reflection of the Regiment’s time in Afghanistan by Lt Alex Dumont. Prayers of thanksgiving were then led by the Revd Stephen Pratt, RMLY Chaplain.

Following the Blessing by the Bishop of Lichfield, the Dean and the Bishop escorted Her Majesty to the west doors, followed by the Honorary Colonel and the Commanding Officer.

Her Majesty was then escorted to the Lichfield Cathedral School for a private reception for the RMLY and their families. The Queen entered the Cathedral School, which was opened in 1942, via the beautiful stone staircase. Her Majesty took the time to meet the School Headteacher, Mr Peter Allwood and his wife, as well as the Cathedral choristers.

 

Visit Preparation

The Cathedral Community have thoroughly enjoyed making preparations for the visiting Monarch, the Regiment and their families this July.

As well as the Cathedral clergy and staff, an army of volunteers have worked tirelessly to ensure the Cathedral was fully prepared to welcome The Queen. This included help from the Cathedral Servers, Stewards, the Flower Guild, Embroiderers, Music Department helpers, Maintenance and of course the Holy Dusters who along with the vergers and other volunteers, completed a ‘Clean for The Queen’ evening prior to the visit.

Background

Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral – a centre of Christian worship for over 1300 years, a place of pilgrimage, history and prayer. Lichfield Cathedral is one of the oldest places of Christian worship in Britain, and the burial place of the great Anglo-Saxon missionary Bishop, St Chad.

The Cathedral has a rich history, reflected in its architecture and treasures (including the 8th century St Chad Gospels and Lichfield Angel) and, as a place of great beauty, it continues to inspire and encourage all who visit it as tourists, pilgrims or worshippers.

As the symbolic centre and Mother Church of the Church of England Diocese of Lichfield, it is committed to the daily offering of worship and prayer to God, and to the offering of spiritual nourishment and space to all who come on their own journey of search and discovery. As a community, the Cathedral sets high store by its welcome and hospitality, in this it tries to be faithful to the friendship and freedom given in the good news of Jesus Christ.

The Cathedral's mission statement:

'Lichfield Cathedral is called to live and proclaim the transforming love of God. Through the fullness of its life in the Spirit it seeks to be a sign of the friendship and freedom that God in Jesus Christ has given to the whole world to enjoy.'

The RMLY

The Royal Mercian & Lancastrian Yeomanry was formed in 1992, from an amalgamation between The Queen’s Own Mercian Yeomanry and the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry. In 1999 the Cheshire Yeomanry Squadron joined the Regiment and in 2006 the infantry detachment at Hereford also joined and re-roled to yeomanry becoming Manoeuvre Support Squadron in 2010. As its name suggests the Regiment is dispersed throughout the West Midlands and Lancashire with Squadrons in Dudley, Telford, Chester, Wigan and Hereford. Regimental Headquarters is co-located with B Squadron in Telford.

The Regiment’s current role is to support Regular Army Royal Armoured Corps Regiments with reinforcements for operations. In the event of large scale war individuals would deploy into such roles as tank crewmen, ambulance crew, headquarters staff and liaison officers. The Regiment has a heavy commitment to current operations in Afghanistan and the visit of Her Majesty as the Regiment’s Colonel in Chief recognises the return of 35 yeomanry soldiers who have deployed in a quite different role – system operators for surveillance equipment deployed in Forward Operating Bases and Patrol Bases in Helmand Province. This equipment provides the ‘eyes and ears’ to enable the infantry to operate more securely from their bases and detects insurgent activity in the vicinity. It is life saving equipment and the ability of the yeomanry operators to analyse information and brief their deductions to commanders is essential. Most of those to receiving medals will return to their civilian employment shortly, or have already done so.

The day was also attended by family guests of those serving in the Regiment, civilian support staff and Association members.