THE massed ranks of the Royal Welsh and the regimental goat Billy marched through the streets of Denbigh to a rapturous welcome.

Hundreds lined the streets to watch the men of The Ist Battalion, The Royal Welsh be granted the freedom of the county of Denbighshire.

The award was granted to the regiment for its services to the county and the battalion’s long links with the town and county.

The battalion, which is based in the Dale Barracks, Chester, played a leading role clearing insurgents from Afghanistan’s Helmand Province in 2009-10 as part of Operation Moshtarak.

The Royal Welsh was formed on St David’s Day in 2006 from three former regiments - The Royal Welch Fusiliers, The Royal Regiment of Wales and The Royal Welsh Regiment (TA).

The Denbigh parade was inspected by Denbighshire County Council chairman Bill Cowie.

Later Cllr Cowie said: “As an ex-soldier myself I felt very fortunate to be given the chance to inspect the troops and the freedom parade was a really proud day for the town and the county.”

Regimental goat Billy – who was recruited from Llandudno‘s Great Orme – led the Band of The Prince of Wales' Division in front of the troops, while a detachment from the Clwyd and Gwynedd Army Cadet Force and members of the Regimental Association were also on show.

"It was worth the wait for the parade on Saturday as it was an absolutely magnificent day," said Raymond Bartley, county councillor for Lower Denbigh.

"It was a tribute to everyone that so many people turned out and I would like to thank all who came.

"It was a day the town will never forget."

Denbigh resident Brian Jones added: “Today I felt very proud to be a resident of Denbighshire and in particular the town of Denbigh.

“I witnessed the giving of the freedom of Denbighshire by the County Council to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers regiment. What a spectacular sight.

“I can honestly state that everyone that was present were overwhelmed by the sincerity and gratitude that was felt.

“I must praise Councillor Medwyn Williams, the Mayor of Denbigh, his speech was from the heart and made me realise that indeed we are very fortunate to live in a country that welcomes the freedom of speech,” he added.