Updated: Apr 28
Monday 2nd September 2019 in the splendid surrounding of the Council Chamber Dewsbury Town Hall Lt Col (Retd) Robin Smith MBE. TD. presented to the Mayor of Kirklees, Cllr Mumtaz Hussain, two silver statuettes of the KOYLI Memorial Statue to the commemorate the enduring links between the regiment and our freedom towns of Batley and Dewsbury.
The presentation was witnessed by KOYLI members of the Association, who all come from either Batley or Dewsbury, and the Mayoress, Deputy Mayor, Leader of Kirklees Council, Chief Executive and local Councillors. The great grandson of Sjt John William Ormsby VC. MM., Jason Yarrow was also able to attend. Jason served with C Coy 8LI at Intake Lane Batley.
The presentation commenced with the KOYLI regimental call sounded by Bugler Peter Bate. In honor of the occasion the KOYLI Association branch Standards of Batley and Dewsbury were on display along with KOYLI Standards of Pontefract, Wakefield and Leeds.
In his address Lt Col Robin Smith said,
"The Freedoms of Batley and Dewsbury were granted to the KOYLI in 1946, since that date these freedoms have been exercised from time to time, most recently in 2017 in Dewsbury". He went on to say "One thing has always struck me about freedom parades in Dewsbury and that is the warmth of the reception which we receive from the people. I know that it is a huge encouragement to today’s soldiers that they know they have the wholehearted support of the people of these towns".
"Now I pass to the presentations, one statuette for Batley and one for Dewsbury, our Freedom towns. It is our wish that each of our Freedom towns should retain a statuette in enduring recognition of the bond which binds our regiment with the places from which its soldiers have come".
The Mayor Cllr Mumtaz Hussain in responding and accepting the statuettes said,
"The association between the towns of Dewsbury and Batley and the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry goes back to the 1940s when both towns were granted the Freedom of those former Boroughs in 1946. The past Mayor of Dewsbury Cllr William Henry Hooper said on that occasion, and I quote, that “granting the honour was a gesture and symbol of grateful recognition by the people of Dewsbury and Batley to all members of the fighting services in whatever branch or arm they played their part”. I am proud to repeat those words, as they are as relevant today as they were then".
"I am equally honoured to receive on behalf of the citizens of Dewsbury and Batley the replica Memorial Statuettes which are given to their Freedom towns and cities by The Rifles Light Infantry and K.O.Y.L.I. Association. Both will be proudly on display for all to see at the respective Town Halls as a reminder of our continuing association. Thank you for these gifts, which will be cherished. On behalf of the citizens of the Borough of Kirklees I would like to express gratitude for the work and dedication of The Rifles Light Infantry and King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Association in continuing to honour the memory of those who served".
Our thanks to the Mayor and Mayoress for their hospitality and to Sally Greenwood of the Mayor's Office for organising the event. Thanks to our Association members Brian Clayton, Geoff Holland, Harry Newton, Bernard Woods, Ken Shaw, Ivor Westwood and Tim Humphreys who provide an honour guard.
View the photo album for all the images