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HMS Mersey sails into Sefton for historic Freedom ceremony

  • Naval officers will parade through the streets of Bootle
  • Historic Freedom of the Borough award will be presented to the ship’s command
  • Public are invited to see inside HMS Mersey

Sefton’s proud historic links with the Royal Navy are set to be reaffirmed later this month as HMS Mersey is bestowed the Freedom of the Borough.
HMS Mersey is a River-class offshore patrol vessel and the fifth Royal Navy vessel to carry the name. She will visit Sefton and Liverpool in mid-April, during which time the ship and her crew will be given the honorary Freedom of the Borough of Sefton. 
This will take place at a special ceremony on Thursday 13th April.

Civic Ceremony
Lieutenant Commander James Mitchell, the commanding officer of HMS Mersey, will be joined by crew from the ship, representatives of the Royal Navy and civic leaders to mark the special occasion, officially commemorating the Borough’s naval links which also date back over 80 years.
HMS Mersey’s affiliation with Sefton was granted partly in honour of Captain Frederic John Walker, a World War Two officer who led command of escort ships from Bootle’s Gladstone Dock, during the Battle of the Atlantic.
Captain Walker also played a huge role in the D-Day landings of 1944, helping set up an impenetrable wall of escort ships to stop German U-Boats from attacking allied boats going to and from Normandy. This two-week blockade contributed massively to the Allied invasion’ success.

Captain Walker
A portrait of Captain Walker, along with a series of wartime naval memorabilia, adorns the walls of Bootle Town Hall, which is where HMS Mersey will receive freedom status.
Mayor of Sefton Clare Carragher said:  “Our Borough, and Bootle in particular, is synonymous with the heroism and dedication of our Royal Navy.
“It is poignant that just a few hundred yards from our council chamber still stands the former house of Captain Walker and battle worn ensigns from dozens of naval ships hang proudly within Bootle Town Hall.

“I am humbled by the sacrifice of those who have gone before us and those who serve today across our armed forces. To be the Mayor who bestows the Freedom of the Borough upon HMS Mersey is an honour.”
HMS Mersey’s Lieutenant Commander James Mitchell said:  “I am delighted that HMS Mersey is returning to spend time ‘at home.’
“During that period, we’ll be receiving the Freedom of the Borough of Sefton and on Sunday 16th  April, we’ll be parading through Bootle. 
“From all of the Ship’s company of HMS Mersey, we look forward to seeing everyone soon.”
The Honorary Freedom of the Borough will grant HMS Mersey, as a Service Unit, the right, privilege, honour and distinction of marching through the streets of the Borough on all ceremonial occasions with ‘colours flying, bands playing, drums beating and bayonets fixed.’
HMS Mersey will be exercising their Freedom of Entry during their parade, which everyone is encouraged to attend.
The Freedom Parade will leave Bootle Town Hall on the Sunday morning and march via Trinity Road,  Stanley Road, Merton Road and Oriel Road before returning to the Town Hall.
A special open day will also be held on board HMS Mersey at the Pier Head, Liverpool throughout Saturday 15th April, during which the public will be invited to tour the ship.