1. ITV Report

1st Battalion The Royal Welsh march through the city of Chester

Meeting the troops: Sir Alex Ferguson awards campaign medals Photo: ITV Granada

Around 500 soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh (1 R WELSH), based at Dale Barracks in Chester, have marched through their home city to mark their return from service in Afghanistan.

The event started and ended at Chester Racecourse, where the troops received their operational medals from the Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

The homecoming parade was an opportunity for soldiers to thank the people of Chester for their continuing support, particularly during their recent tour of duty.

The battalion deployed to Afghanistan in April where it helped in the continuing transfer of responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces.

Sir Alex thanked the soldiers for their heroism.

Everytime you go out there we pray for you. The ones who didn't make it we will remember most of all. It's an absolute privilege for me to be here.''

– Sir Alex Ferguson
Addressing the troops: Sir Alex Ferguson gave a moving speech Credit: ITV Granada
Battalion on parade - the Royal Welsh at Chester Racecourse Credit: ITV Granada

The Royal Welsh says the deployment to Afghanistan saw great progress but at a cost.

On May 26, Captain Stephen Healey, aged 29 from Cardiff, was killed when the vehicle he was travelling in was caught in the blast from an improvised explosive device while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

Days later, on June 1, Corporal Michael John Thacker, aged 27 from Swindon, Wiltshire, was killed after coming under small arms fire in the same district. Thursday will be an opportunity to mark their sacrifice.

Smile - Sir Alex poses for photographs Credit: ITV Granada

Lieutenant Colonel Steve Webb, the Commanding Officer of 1 R WELSH, commented: "It is good to be home and to have the opportunity to celebrate with, and thank those who have been so important to our successful tour in Afghanistan this year, and I hope that everyone continues to show such kind support to those currently deployed as they have shown to us.

''Primarily though, I hope the day is a fitting way for the Battalion, our families and the wider Regiment to celebrate our homecoming."