SOLDIERS have been recognised for their contribution to the Army's work in Afghanistan as they prepare to swap Catterick for Cyprus.

Members of the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS) took part in a socially-distanced medal parade at Catterick's Somme barracks on Wednesday.

Brigadier Olly Brown, Commander of the Army in the North, presented medals in recognition of the soldiers' recent work on Operation Toral in Afghanistan.

During their six-month tour, the battalion carried out vital tasks including protecting NATO officials and working with Afghan forces as they rebuild their country following years of conflict.

The medal parade also marked a farewell to the Catterick barracks as the battalion will spend the next two years in Cyprus.

As well as receiving their tour medals, several soldiers were also presented with special commendations and long service awards.

Among them was Lance Corporal Claire Martin from Durham, who received a Queens Commendation for Valuable Service for her work on tour in Mali.

The Northern Echo:

LCpl Martin helped develop medical training for Mali forces and said she was proud to have received recognition for her service.

She added: "I really enjoyed working with the Mali people, they are just so lovely and it was really rewarding work.

"I was a bit chuffed when I heard about the commendation, it's nice to be rewarded for something good that you've done, although I don't really think that I did anything other than what I was expected to do."

LCpl Mark Purvis from Middlesbrough was among those receiving an Afghan medal and said he was proud to be a part of Teesside's long military history.

Brigadier Brown said: “As the Army’s representative in the North of England, it is a real privilege to present these medals to Yorkshire’s own infantry.

"Having The Yorkshire Regiment based here at home in Yorkshire, is an important element of keeping the Army visibly in contact with the region we recruit from and with the communities that we serve.

"From success on operations to assisting with regional flooding and Covid testing, 2 YORKS and 4 YORKS have served our region and the Army well.

"And although we are saying goodbye to the 2nd Battalion, I am looking forward to welcoming 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Armoured Infantry) to Catterick, as they make the move north from Warminster in Wiltshire.”

The new Commanding Officer of 2 YORKS, Lieutenant Colonel James Ashworth said of the move to Cyprus: “There is no doubt that taking over command right at the point of a whole unit move overseas, and in the middle of a pandemic, is interesting to say the least.

"However, now that we have been able to formally recognise the achievements on operations; the support provided to flood hit areas and also Covid testing, the opportunity presented by the whole unit move to Cyprus will be our new focus.

"The battalion has been reorganised and structured to meet the very different demands we will face in Cyprus.

"Our families have been well prepared and have shown amazing patience as we returned from ops, took some leave and then started to pack, and all in the face of some limiting Covid restrictions and constraints.

"But we are ready, there’s a lot to look forward to and some wonderful opportunities for our soldiers and their families and friends to look forward to.”