THE Duke & Duchess of Devonshire officially presented the new mascot of the Mercian Regiment to the Colonel of the Mercian Regiment at Chatsworth this morning, Thursday 21 December 2017.
Pte Derby, as he is known, is a Swaledale ram from the Duke’s own Chatsworth Estate flock. He is the 32nd of a long line of Regimental Mascots that the Duke of Devonshire has donated to the Regiment, a tradition that goes back some 160 years.
Pte Derby XXXII was carefully selected for his fine looks and strong character. He has been undergoing training with his handlers from the Regiment to get him used to the coat and medals he wears on parade.
On a foggy morning at Chatsworth, the new Pte Derby performed impeccably on his first public appearance, standing proudly and calmly for photographs and interviews.
He also attracted interest from the Duke & Duchess’ Grandchildren who couldn’t resist the opportunity to meet the new Pte Derby.
The Regimental Mascot plays an important role leading the Mercian Regiment on public duties and is a symbol of the strength, ethos and heritage of the Regiment.
His predecessor led the Regiment on prestigious parades including changing the guard at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
Today’s event was the first official engagement of the new Regimental Mascot, after which his training will continue to prepare him for his first Mercian Regiment parade in Lichfield on Saturday 13 January 2018.
The Duke of Devonshire said, “It is a long standing tradition that the mascot of the Mercian Regiment has been selected from the finest rams in the Chatsworth Swaledale flock. I am very pleased to present the regiment with their next Private Derby, who I am sure will serve as proudly as his predecessors have done before. Chatsworth has always had a strong connection with our county regiment, so I am very happy to continue our support with this early Christmas present.”
Colonel of the Regiment, Brigadier (Retd) Andrew Williams OBE, said, “I am delighted to accept from the Duke & Duchess of Devonshire the gift of our new regimental mascot.
“Their continued support for their county regiment is greatly appreciated.
“Private Derby XXXII will be a fine addition to the Regiment and by all accounts is progressing well with his training.
“We are all looking forward to being on parade on 13 January with our new mascot, such an important part of the spirit and ethos of the Heart of England’s Infantry, the Mercian Regiment.”
Our very own reporter, Edna, once again had the chance to chat with the Colonel of the Mercian Regiment, Brigadier Williams OBE:
Today is also a fitting day for the Regiment to receive its new mascot as it celebrates Ferozeshah, 21 December 1845.
Ferozeshah Day commemorates the action by the 80th Foot (Staffordshire Volunteers) against the Sikhs of the Punjab in the First Sikh War. Colour Sergeant (CSgt) Kirkland captured the Sikh “Black Standard”, which is now held in the Regimental Chapel at Lichfield Cathedral. In commemoration of this event, the battalion Colours are en-trusted to the Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess on Ferozeshah Day.
The 29th Foot (Worcesters), another antecedent regiment, were also present at the battle
Soldiers from the Mercian Regiment and members of the Staffordshire Regiment Association usually meet at the King’s Head in Lichfield for an informal gathering to commemorate Ferozeshah. This is where the Staffordshire Regiment was originally raised and is now owned by the Association.
Today, the mascot of the Staffordshire Regiment Association, Sgt Watchman, is to be promoted CSgt.
We also had a chat to the handler of Pte Derby: