Have you served with the Yorkshire Regiment?

The Yorkshire Regiment's band played in flood-hit Hebden Bridge this month to raise morale among residents
The Yorkshire Regiment's band played in flood-hit Hebden Bridge this month to raise morale among residents
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Sir Gary Verity has backed a campaign to bring Yorkshire's army veterans together again.

The man who brought the Tour de France to the county is a patron of the newly-formed Yorkshire Regiment Association, which will be launched at the regimental museum in York this Friday.

Members are now scouring the nation for 'Yorkshire warriors' who have served their country in the past, and branches of the Association will be formed in Barnsley, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Sheffield, York and Scarborough.

The new group aims to strengthen regimental links and foster friendships among ex-servicemen and women.

The Yorkshire Regiment has a 300-year history and was restructured under its current name in 2006. It still recruits primarily from the county and has 1,200 serving soldiers. It won its first battle honour in 1695 and its most recent in 2003, and its infantrymen have been awarded eight George Crosses and 38 Victoria Crosses for bravery.

Around 4,000 members have left the army in the past decade, and the regiment now hopes to trace these civilians in time for its 10th anniversary celebrations this year.

“The military, and especially the Yorkshire Regiment, play an important role in communities across the county. The launch of the Yorkshire Regiment Association will only strengthen these ties. I feel privileged to be involved from the start of this new initiative and will wear my membership badge with pride," said Sir Gary.

The regiment's roots lie in the colonial wars in North America and the Battle of Waterloo, and they have fought in more recent campaigns during World War Two and in Afghanistan.

Although not all of its soldiers are originally from Yorkshire and many move elsewhere after being discharged, the Association wants to welcome veterans who are 'Yorkshiremen by birth or in spirit' to join the inclusive organisation.

Regimental colonel Major General Graham Binns CBE will attend the launch event along with serving and former soldiers.

“It is right and fitting that as we approach our tenth anniversary, we take the opportunity to reconnect with all our veterans. We want to make sure that they can meet up and understand that their personal service in the regiment means something and has not been forgotten,” he said.

There will also be branches in the regiment's two current barracks towns, Catterick in North Yorkshire and Warminster in Wiltshire, which each house a battalion. The reserve force is also based at Catterick.

Several 'pop-up' reunion gatherings will be arranged in towns during official visits, and those with connections to the regiment are invited to drop in.

“We feel that now is the right time to do something in return for all those who have served in the regiment. After ten years on operations, we now have soldiers who would like to share their experiences, meet up with friends or who are looking for help," said chairman Major Pat Ralph.

“The YRA will provide those opportunities in local branches, at organised and informal events and help them to stay in touch using the internet and social media.”

The YRA also has a charity - the Yorkshire Regiment Benevolent Trust - to assist veterans with employment opportunities, benefits and housing.

Veterans who join the Association will receive regular updates about events in 2016, including a reunion in York on March 5 and a race day at York on May 21. A colours parade is also planned.