Triumphant Freedom

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The crew of the Royal Navy’s nuclear-powered “hunter-killer” submarine HMS Triumph have exercised their freedom of Newton Abbot with Bayonets fixed, Colours flying and Bands playing at a parade through the Devon town.

It is the first time the honour has been bestowed on any organisation, creating a milestone in the community’s history. A marching platoon of 25 submariners accompanied by up to 30 musicians from the Southwest Area Sea Cadets Band, marched from Victoria Gardens to Wolborough Street, where the Freedom Scroll was presented by the Mayor, Councillor Carol Bunday to Royal Navy Commander Shaun Southwood, representing Cdr Scott Taylor Commanding Officer of HMS TRIUMPH.

Dignitaries attending the Freedom of Newton Abbot parade also included the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Devon, Commodore Jake Moores and the High Sheriff Nick McKinnel, who is the former Bishop of Plymouth.

Cllr Bunday said, “It is a real honour to host the crew of HMS Triumph for this very special occasion and the people of Newton Abbot have turned out to welcome them. Our historic market town has long links with the sea, not least the Newfoundland cod trade of the 17th Century which did so much for our prosperity when other communities weren’t perhaps faring as well.

“Town Quay was also the departure point for any amount of locally produced goods and materials which were shipped to the four corners of the Earth, so to associate ourselves with The Royal Navy makes perfect sense. And today, as throughout our nation’s history, we owe a debt of gratitude to our Armed Forces who serve their country and help to maintain our safety and security. We salute the crew of HMS Triumph and are delighted to offer them the freedom of our town.”

The Freedom of Newton Abbot was formally announced by the Town Council in 2019 when the then Commanding Officer, Commander Steve Waller, accepted the declaration at the old Town Hall in Devon Square. In exchange Cdr Waller gave the Town Council a copy of the submarine’s badge to go on display when the authority moved to its new offices at Newton’s Place in Wolborough Street.

The relationship developed after the Mayor at the time, Cllr Richard Jenks, visited HMS Triumph in Devonport. The Covid pandemic delayed plans for the parade and official scroll presentation.

Town Clerk Phil Rowe said, “I’m so pleased that we can finally complete the giving of the Freedom of Newton Abbot to Cdr Southwood and his crew. This is a great day in our town’s long history.”

Cdr Shaun Southwood read the words sent by the Commanding Officer of HMS Triumph Cdr Scott Taylor, “It is with mixed feelings that I am unable to represent HMS Triumph in person to accept the Freedom of Newton Abbot on behalf of the submarine and her Ships Company.

“While saddened we are unable to join you on this most special of days, this sadness is offset by the pride and excitement we all feel in returning her to where she rightfully belongs, delivering on operations. While the history of the name HMS Triumph does not quite extend as far back as that of Newton Abbot, we do share a rich tapestry woven into the fabric of the region and I can only hope the future for HMS Triumph, and indeed our affiliation, is as illustrious as her past.

“Again, on behalf of my Ships Company, thank you and we hope to be in a position to visit you again in the near future’.

Original article and photos HM Naval Base Devonport | Facebook

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