08:01 Thursday 19 December 2013

VIDEO AND SLIDESHOW -'Much loved' Watchman receives hero's send off

Written byHELEN KREFT

A ‘MUCH LOVED’ canine mascot has been given military honours in a funeral to remember his long and distinguished service.

The funeral of Colour Sergeant Watchman IV, who was first appointed mascot of the Staffordshire Regiment in March 1999 and later regimental mascot to the Staffordshire Regiment Association, was held outside Burton Town Hall yesterday.

The popular mascot died on December 5 at the grand age of 15.

Members of the Staffordshire Regiment, Mercian Regiment and both the leader and chief executive of East Staffordshire Borough Council quietly listened to tributes to Watchman IV – known as Stormer to his family.

Members of the regiment carried his coffin from the town hall to the grounds covered by a Union Jack, before lowering him into his final resting place.

His handler, Colour Sergeant Malcolm Bower died before him and his widow, Coral looked after him for his four years spent in retirement after handing over duties to Watchman V.

Malcolm’s daughter, Charlotte Bower, addressed the congregation: “Stormer came to live with us in 1998; he was a wonderful and loyal dog. He never forgot anyone who took him for a walk and when his coat was put on he knew exactly what was expected of him.

“In 2009 he retired and his much loved master passed away. It was obvious Stormer missed him very much.

“It has been both a privilege and an honour to share our lives with both mascots (also Watchman III).”

Retired Major Jim Massey, secretary of The Staffordshire Regiment Association, also paid tribute, saying: “Watchman IV was enlisted as a puppy on March 13, 1999 and became the official mascot of the Staffordshire Regiment.

“He was a well behaved dog who knew when he would be on parade and carried himself with dignity and assurance and was patient with the public, especially children.”

The retired major also listed important events Watchman IV had attended included the 800th anniversary of the Royal Charter to the Stafford Borough in 2006, when he met the Queen.

He added: “He was a much loved companion, very loyal and faithful – an ambassador for his breed.”

A poem originally written for Watchman III by Malcolm Bower was read out by WO2 Greg Hedges, mascot handler for Watchman V:

Of the Staffordshire Bull so much I could write,

Of his muscular body, his strength and his might.

For thus are the attributes of his noble breed; Of courage, loyalty and noble in deed.

Richly endowed in physical perfection

Distract not from his love and affection.

Of man’s best friend so I have wrote,

It is with pride I record and note, of moral courage to the letter, as good as gold and even better.

His rivals are but very few,

My faithful friend so good and true.

The efforts of my labours are but nothing to compare

With that of life’s example I have within my care.

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