CROWDS lined the streets in Barry town centre to cheer RAF personnel exercising their freedom of the Vale to mark 75 years in South Wales.

Pupils from Holton, Gladstone, and Jenner Park primaries and St Helen’s Junior RC schools waved Welsh flags to show their support for those taking part in the parade from King Square, along Holton Road to the Civic Offices, on Monday, June 23.

It marked the beginning of Armed Forces Week, which will see a number of ceremonies and events taking place across the UK, culminating in Armed Forces Day on Saturday, June 28.

Taking part in the ceremony, which marked the beginning of Armed Forces week, was 73-year-old Jim Doyle – formerly a corporal and driving instructor at MOD, RAF St Athan – who bore the standard of the Barry branch of the RAF Association once more having done so since 1982.

Jim said he was proud to have taken part on so many occasions.

He said: “Normally the same people turn out. We are all members of the association and we support each other.”

He lined up alongside members of the Royal British Legion, Barry branch and the Merchant Navy Association, Barry branch.

Sir Brooke Boothby, who also attended the ceremony, said: “Before the war the Vale of Glamorgan was really quite empty and there weren’t that many people around. Then the RAF arrived and the Welsh Guards and they were seen as the Vale of Glamorgan’s contribution to the defence of the country.”

The RAF, based at St Athan, were granted the freedom of Barry in May 1959 and more recently, they were made Honorary Freemen of the Vale, 40 years ago, in 1974.

RAF Service personnel from No 4 School of Technical Training were led by Flight Lieutenant Dominic Warren who carried the Wilkinson Sword of Peace.

MOD St Athan commanding officer, wing commander Robert Balls and Vale mayor, Cllr Howard Hamilton, took the salute followed by a short ceremony at which the Armed Forces Day flag was raised.