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THE people of Motherwell turned out in force to welcome members of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 Scots) home from Afghanistan.

Following a successful six-month tour of operations in the dangerous Helmand province around 150 soldiers took to the streets of the town on Monday, cheered on by an army of well wishers.

The parade started at the TA Centre in Parkneuk Street and snaked its way through Motherwell town centre before the soldiers took the salute from the Lord Lieutenant of Lanarkshire Mushtaq Ahmad outside Motherwell police office.

He said: “It was an honour to welcome the 1st Battalion of the Royal Regiment back home to Scotland, and especially to Lanarkshire.

“The battalion has endured an intense and dangerous six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan and it is great to see them back home safely on home soil.”

After taking the salute the soldiers were invited to Motherwell Concert Hall for a civic reception hosted by North Lanarkshire provost and armed forces champion Jim Robertson.

He said: “The parade was a huge success and gave the people of North Lanarkshire the opportunity to show their gratitude for the courage being shown by our armed forces personnel.

“It was a magnificent occasion and I was delighted to see so many people coming out onto the streets to support the troops.”

The soldiers were delighted with the reception they received and thrilled to be back home.

Major James Christie, battalion second in command for 1 Scots, said: “It was a fascinating tour for all of us and the majority of the boys are now back, we just have one company still to come back in the next few days.

“The parade was absolutely fantastic, we have been innundated with people cheering, waving banners, waving flags, so we couldn’t complain at the reception we have received and want to say thank you very much to the people of Motherwell.

“In many cases we recruit from the community, we have soldiers from across Lanarkshire and want to keep that linkage with the local communities up and running, and the best way to do that is by coming back into them.

“We had some local lads marching with us, and from my point of view when I looked out into the crowds I saw many soldiers I served with in the past, especially when I was with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

“Now we have come back it is a chance to relax, individuals need a break after a very demanding six-month operation in Helmand so it is good for them to be able to see their families again and catch a breath.

“It’s been demanding, it’s been different and a real challenge, but it’s nice to be home.”