On the 27 January, soldiers of 216 Battery (The Bolton Artillery) were invited to provide the honour guard to the Mayor of Bolton’s inaugural church service. Normally done to confirm the Mayor’s appointment, a parade is normally held prior to a church service but due to Covid the service was held towards the end of Bolton’s current Mayor’s tenure. Councillor Linda Thomas kindly invited the Batteries soldiers to be her honour guard and the Royal Artillery Band, also based in Bolton, to provide a trumpet fanfare.
216 Battery attended with rifles and bayonets fitted, marking the not only the Freedom of Bolton but the Batteries unbroken 163-year association with the town. The soldiers who are largely from the local community or the community of Greater Manchester or Lancashire are immensely proud of their deep connection with the Bolton Community and the unique honours and traditions that they are custodians of. Battery Sergeant Major WO2 Mark Talbot 53 said ‘it’s a real pleasure to do Civic Events, the community give us huge support and it’s great to be able to provide a service back to the community’.
On 29 March, Councillor Akhtar Zaman Mayor Elect visited 216 Battery and was hosted for an evening. The Battery used the opportunity to highlight the role that the Battery plays within the community and its desire to educate the community on what it does. Cllr Zaman visited the new recruits that evening where he was introduced to their training and the recruits explained why they wanted to join the reserve and what their civilian jobs were. Cllr Zaman spent some time with the trained soldiers, trying on the equipment before speaking to SSgt Aitchison who had recently returned from conducting 4 months, Military Aid to the Civil Authority in Edinburgh.
Cllr Zaman also visited the Army Cadet Force’s Bolton Detachment, also Royal Artillery badged, they explained all the opportunities and activities that the cadets do from first aid to sports, Duke of Edinburgh Award to shooting and so much more. Cllr Zaman was able to speak to all the soldiers in the Mess at the end of the night finishing with a delicious vegetarian pasta from our Chef and Royal Artillery Sports Personality of the year Cpl Jill Gallagher.