Some local Reservists, were presented with their Shamrocks early due to being able to attend the annual ‘Presentation of Shamrock’ tomorrow (Saturday) at Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn.
The 2nd Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment spent the weekend carrying out rehearsals for next weekend’s presentation when the Lord Lieutenant of Antrim Mrs Joan Christie will be taking the salute for the annual parade and march past.
The commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel DB Kenny OBE also took the opportunity to present some local Reservists with their Shamrock.
Lisburn man, Sergeant Tommy Mateer was presented wiht his Shamorck, alongside Sergeant Ricky Young from Ballymena and Pte Natalie Bowbanks from Portadown.
Sergeant Mateer, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and is part of HQ ‘faughs’ Company in Thiepval Barracks said: “It was a great privilege to receive my Shamrock in front of the battalion at the weekend. I was not expecting it and it really was a surprise.
“I had mentioned to my OC that this would be the first parade I will have missed in over 20 years and when the Regimental Sergeant Major called me to step forward so the Commanding Officer could present me with my shamrock; it was a shock.
“The battalion is one big family and it’s great when you mention something in passing it can be picked up by the Commanding Officer and acted on. That’s why we are always looking for the right people from all across the community who want to be part of something big.”
Captain Paul McFarland MC the Battalion Adjutant said: “St Patricks Day is a very special day in our history and one we ensure tradition is followed as it stems a message received by Queen Victoria in March 1900 where soldier from our antecedent Regiment the Royal Irish Fusiliers saw active service in the Boer War (1899–1902) and fought with valor.
“I have heard with the deepest concern of the heavy losses sustained by my brave Irish soldiers. I desire to express my sympathy and my admiration of the splendid fighting qualities which they have exhibited throughout these trying operations
“Her Majesty the Queen is pleased to order that in future on Saint Patrick’s Day all ranks in Her Majesty’s Irish regiments shall wear as a distinction a sprig of shamrock in their head-dress to commemorate the gallantry of Her Irish soldiers during the recent battles in South Africa.”
Capt McFarland continued: “We are always looking for young people who are generally fit and keen to succeed. We will do the rest including training, mentoring and development, and with the new remuneration packages on offer a part time reserve career is offering more than just an exciting and dynamic role.
“From the moment you join the Battalion you are paid for every day’s training as well as substantial bonus packages ranging from £300 after passing Army selection to £1000 on passing Phase One training and Phase Two training.
“Add to this the annual tax free bounty of £428 in your first year rising to £1727 annually after five years and it makes a lot of sense.”