HUNDREDS of people braved the cold weather to welcome the crew of a Royal Navy ship to their town yesterday.

The company of HMS Richmond visited Richmond, North Yorkshire, to exercise the freedom of the town granted to the ship in 1996.

The crew marched through the market place accompanied by a Royal Marines band before being inspected by Richmond Mayor Councillor Russell Lord in the grounds of the castle.

Coun Lord said: "It was a fabulous day despite the weather.

"We were rebuilding the special bond we have with HMS Richmond. It was lovely that they were in a position to come and exercise their freedom."

Security was tight throughout the day with rubbish bins covered over and police sniffer dogs patrolling the town.

The present HMS Richmond is the eighth to bear the name, having been built by Swan Hunter on Tyneside in 1993.

The ship will this week sail to Portsmouth for a refit.