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Published June 27th 2019
Staffordshire Bull Terrier to be cast as mascot sculpture
A fitting tribute is to be paid to an army regiment in the Midlands - in the form of a sculpture to its canine mascot. Work has begun on preparing the way for the installation of a new Staffordshire Regiment memorial in Tamworth Castle Grounds. The statue is of Tamworth's favourite regimental mascot, C/Sgt Watchman V - mascot of the Staffordshire Regiment - and will serve as a memorial to fallen soldiers of the regiment since the end of World War II. The life-size sculpture, designed by artist Johanna Domke-Guyot, is cast in solid bronze and will sit on a black and gold marble base. The ground has now been cut in readiness for the statue, with work continuing over the next few weeks before the sculpture arrives at its new home in the coming months.
Cllr Robert Pritchard (left), Greg Hedges (centre) and Dave Bradshaw (right) with Watchman V and Watchman VI
The new installation will be located on the Lower Lawn of Tamworth Castle Grounds, next to the memorial benches that mark the official formation of the Mercian Regiment in Tamworth in 2007. The project was only made possible after £14,000 was raised through public donations, support from local businesses and fundraising by many groups and organisations. Councillor Robert Pritchard, Deputy Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, has led the project with Community Together CIC. He said: "The project is nearing completion and the sod cutting is the beginning of the end. The statue will be surrounded with engraved bricks featuring the names of Staffords who have died on deployment or operations since the end of WW2. These men would like no other fitting tribute than the symbol of their regiment, their mascot, Watchman. I have spent months researching the names and building an online roll of honour, with information about each of the fallen Staffords."
The upper and lower lawns of Tamworth Castle Grounds
The statue will feature a special QR code that smartphone users can 'scan' to take them directly to a dedicated new website which is currently being developed to host the roll of honour. This can be found at www.staffordshireregiment.co.uk. This roll of honour includes the names of a number of Tamworth soldiers who have lost their lives in conflicts since the Second World War. The statue is being installed free of charge by ex-Staffordshire Regiment veteran Dave Bradshaw, of Bradshaw & Wright Building and Restoration Ltd. The statue is set to be unveiled later this year with a parade through Tamworth by the wider regimental family and the launch of a commemorative beer by Tamworth Brewing Co. Staffordshire regiments have had a Staffordshire Bull Terrier as their mascot since 1882. The Watchman name started after the Second World War and there have only been five Watchman mascots since 1949. The current mascot is Sgt Watchman V, who took up his duties in October 2009. The Staffordshire Regiment was disbanded and merged into the Mercian Regiment in 2007.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers have been the regiment's mascot since 1882. By Public Domain - no attribution required - Pixabayhttps://pixabay.com/photos/staffordshire-bull-terrier-staffy-2748733/,https://pixabay.com/photos/staffordshire-bull-terrier-2983742/,https://pixabay.com/photos/animal-dog-2836990/ andhttps://pixabay.com/photos/puppy-staffordshire-bull-terrier-dog-2166763/, CC0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77847190
The present Watchman serves as mascot to the Staffordshire Regimental Association and the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, attending many public events, military ceremonies and regimental funerals. WO2 Greg Hedges, handler of C/Sgt Watchman V and Pte Watchman VI, said: "We are always overwhelmed by the love and warmth shown to Watchman by the Tamworth community. The unveiling later this year will also mark the retirement of C/Sgt Watchman V, and Pte Watchman VI will take over as the sole regimental family veteran mascot. So it will be an event mixed with pride and a degree of sadness, as a true friend and hardworking dog retires home, and out of the public limelight." Pictures of the statue in progress can be found at www.staffordshireregiment.co.uk