CAMPAIGNERS turned out in force to continue the fight to save the name of the former Staffordshire Regiment this week in Stafford’s town centre.
Members of the Stafford branch of the Staffordshire Regimental Association (SRA) were joined by local MPs, councillors and townsfolk in a peaceful protest over the decision to axe the regiment, urging government ministers to change their minds, or at the very least save the Staffords’ name.
Talking to the Newsletter, events manager for the Stafford branch, said the main objective of the demonstration was to make people aware of the defence cuts announced last month that will see the 3rd Battalion Mercian Regiment, which incorporates the Staffords, scrapped and many soldiers jobless.
“There's a fighting spirit throughout the ages, associated with the Staffords name,” he said. “We’re so proud right now of the enrolment out in Afghanistan.
“They have to go back next year and then come home with their P45s in their pockets.”
He said he saw no reason to axe the regiment and suggested cuts should be made at the top of the Ministry of Defence which would still allow for the necessary savings but keep troops on the ground.
“All we can do is get people to sign the petition and maybe make the government re-think it,” he said.
Stafford Borough Councillor Rowan Draper, said he thought the decision to axe the regiment was “crazy” adding the Staffords name was “incredibly important” to people of the borough.
“Stafford has had a military tradition and a history spanning at least 100 years,” he said. “I think it's really important to speak up for the people of Stafford and Staffordshire in supporting the Mercian regiment.”
Stafford MP, Jeremy Lefroy, said he and other politicians in the area were making the case that the names and traditions of the Staffords be retained within the Mercian Regiment.
“We'd like to see the name of the Staffords carried over onto one of the other two regular battalions of the regiment, and I think that we've been making the case that the Staffords have got an extremely long and distinguished history,” he said. “They're a vital part of the British army.”