ABINGDON’S new multi-million pound barracks will help convince people the Territorial Army is moving forward, military leaders said.
More than 200 people marked the opening of Edward Brooks Barracks, in Cholswell Road, on Saturday, which will be home to the 7th battalion The Rifles.
It has been named after an Oxfordshire war hero who was presented with the Victoria Cross during the First World War.
The Duchess of Gloucester opened the £4m facility, which will see Oxfordshire’s TA units move from Slade Park, in Headington.
Nine-year-old Rosemary Dicks presented the royal visitor with a posy of pink and white flowers.
Rosemary said: “I was nervous, but I felt excited after I had given The Duchess the flowers. It was a real honour for me.”
The youngster is the daughter of Major Marcus Dicks, officer in charge of the battalion, which will call Edward Brooks its new home.
Major Dicks, 40, said: “The building is fantastic. It’s a really good training facility.”
The Duchess, who is the Royal colonel of the 7th Battalion The Rifles, was given a tour of the barracks.
The new purpose-built building will also become home to D Squadron of 202 Field Hospital and the Thames Valley Air Training Corps.
Lance Corporal Tim Smith, 34, from Abingdon, said: “We can use the airfield, go off-road driving and practice section attacks.
“We also have a lot more classrooms, which is much better.”
Dr Jennifer Dinsdale, who works with the field hospital, said the new barracks would make it easy to convince people the Army is modern – and has moved on from the old barracks.
The 32-year-old, from Bicester, said: “I have always wanted to be a doctor, serving my country and the troops to the best of my ability.
“It’s an honour the Duchess has opened the facility and remembered both TA units currently have members deployed in Afghanistan.”
The site has been named after the Edward Brooks, a former Territorial Army hero, who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1917.
Many of Sgt Major Brooks’ family attended the opening.
His three grandchildren Sheila Wilson-Brooks, of Chalgrove, Susan Rees, of Wheatley, and Keith Brooks, of Horspath, said they were extremely proud the barracks had been named in his honour.
Ms Wilson-Brooks said: “The building here is very nice and it is a great honour that it has been named after him.”
Mr Brooks added: “It’s a shame that Edward can’t be here to see it.”