SATURDAY shoppers were stopped in their tracks as Army reservists marched through the streets to exercise their freedom of a North-East borough.

Hundreds turned out to see more than 70 signallers from 50th Signal Squadron march through Darlington to celebrate the 37th anniversary of receiving the freedom of the borough.

Led by the Royal Signals (Northern) Band, the unit came to a halt in the market square for an inspection by Darlington Mayor, Councillor Charles Johnson, and Reviewing Officer, Brigadier David Hargreaves, the Representative Colonel Commandant.

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It was formed in 1908 and was then known as the Northumbrian Signallers.

The current unit, based in Bradford Armoury, is part of 32nd Signal Regiment and provides vital support to the regional armed forces and emergency services during times of crisis.

Coun Johnson said: “We are extremely proud of Darlington’s long association with the Royal Signals Regiment and with the Bradford Armoury in Neasham Road.

“It is our privilege to recognise the work of the many local military personnel who risk their lives both at home and abroad to serve our country.”

Following speeches and the exchange of gifts, Coun Johnson presented the squadron with a scroll.

Leader of the council, Bill Dixon, said the freedom of the borough was the highest distinction that could be given by the authority.

The Officer Commanding 50 Signal Squadron, Major Brad Hogg said: “We have had an amazing day and a wonderful reception by the people of Darlington.

“It is a great honour for us to march through the streets of the town that is home to so many of our soldiers who work and live in the area.

“I would like to thank the community supporting us not just today but throughout the years.”