POP Whitwell had the surprise of his life when he was invited to hand out medals to members of The Royal Anglian Regiment, who had just returned from deployment in Afghanistan.

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Pop - who is secretary of the Whittlesey and Peterborough branch of the Cambridgeshire Regiment Association - thought he had travelled to the Bulford Barracks just to watch the medal ceremony.

But he was asked to accompany an officer on to the parade ground, and was then invited to present the medals to the soldiers.

After the ceremony, Pop said: “I felt so proud, as this was a tremendous honour and privilege, this will always stay with me.”

Last month, Pop masterminded the unveiling of a new plaque in Whittlesey, to honour the fallen from the Cambridgeshire Regiment and the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Also involved in presenting medals at Bulford Barracks were Col David Denson (retired) from the Whittlesey and Peterborough branch of the Cambridgeshire Regiment Association, and Bob Anderson from March branch of the Association.

It was a couple of weeks ago that Pop was invited by Col Denson to go to the Bulford Barrracks in Wiltshire to attend the medal presentation parade.

“I jumped at the chance,” said Pop, “I was told to wear a suit and regimental tie and to wear my medals.”

On arrival at the barracks, Pop and the other guests were taken to the officers’s mess, and spent time chatting with soldiers.

“We were then taken to the parade ground with our allocated officers,” added Pop. “ I didn’t know what to expect, I thought I was just going to watch the parade. We stood in the front of an open fronted tent facing the square, then my allocated officer asked me to accompany him. We walked across the square where the soldiers were and we were greeted by a Sargeant with a tray full of medals, who told me I was presenting them to the soldiers.

“The colonel of the regiment, Major General Jones CBE, took the front row , I took the middle row, and Lt Colonel Hodgson the rear rank. Men from the Suffolk’s Norfolk’s and Essex Regiments also presented medals.

“After the presentation was over there was a march past, followed by a lovely curry lunch was laid on for us. It was an unforgettable day.”

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