TAMWORTH has been chosen as the perfect setting for a special ceremony during which Staffordshire Regiment’s four-legged mascot will be promoted.
The bull terrier, Corporal Watchman V, is to be rewarded for his efforts during the last 18 months with a promotion to the rank of Sergeant.
It has been revealed that the prestigious ceremony will take place during Tamworth’s spectacular St George’s Day celebrations in the Castle Grounds on April 25th.
The role of Watchman is steeped in tradition and the beloved bull terrier mascot has been representing the serving men and women of Staffordshire for more than 130 years.
Since the Mercian Regiment was formed in 2007, Watchman has continued his ceremonial role as mascot of the Staffordshire Regiment Association, as well as taking on numerous events on behalf of the Mercians.
In 2013, Cpl Watchman V, his handler WO2 Greg Hedges and all their successors were awarded the top honour of Freedom of the Borough, giving them the right to march through Tamworth alongside the Regiment whenever it returns to the town.
Tamworth being chosen to host the promotion ceremony is a great testament to the town’s close bond with the mascot.
Deputy Leader of the council, Cllr Robert Pritchard, who initially proposed the motion to make Watchman a freeman, said: “Tamworth is very proud of Watchman and it is a huge honour for the town to be chosen as the venue for Watchman’s promotion.
“Our St George’s Day is always a great day out for the family, but now it has taken on a very special significance to local veterans and the Staffordshire Regiment family.”
Jim Massey of Regimental Headquarters, said: “Tamworth was an obvious choice for Watchman’s promotion ceremony. Tamworth has not only honoured Watchman with its highest honour and organised a welfare campaign for 3 Mercian’s last tour of Afghanistan, but it was also the place the Mercian Regiment was formed.
“However, more than anything, Tamworth residents will make Watchman feel welcome and come out in huge numbers to cheer his promotion.”
The official promotion is traditionally conducted by the consort of Staffordshire’s Lord Lieutenant and so Mrs Jane Dudhill will perform the honours on the day – 18 months after she promoted Watchman to Corporal.
In that time, Cpl Watchman has carried out a great deal of work as part of WW1 commemorations, as well as attending dozens of parades, mayoral events, regimental ceremonies and some funerals.
Last November he attended the Field of Remembrance Service outside Westminster Abbey and was greeted by HRH Prince Harry who remembered him from the previous year.
Thousands of people are expected to descend on the Castle Grounds for the ever-popular St George’s Day celebrations, which features a packed programme of events including medieval demonstrations and displays, workshops, entertainment and the Medieval Dragon. Cpl Watchman will be promoted at 11.50am.