09:46 Thursday 19 December 2013

'Much-loved' Watchman receives hero's send-off

Written byHELEN KREFT

A ‘MUCH-LOVED’ canine mascot has been given military honours at 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 was later regimental mascot to the Staffordshire Regiment Association, was held outside Burton Town Hall.

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

He officially retired at Uttoxeter Racecourse in 2009.

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

Members of the regiment carried the coffin, covered by a Union Flag, from the town hall to the burial plot, before lowering him into his final resting place, alongside his predecessors.

His handler, Colour Sergeant Malcolm Bower, died before him and his widow, Coral, looked after Watchman IV for his four years of retirement.

Malcolm’s daughter, Charlotte Bower, addressed the congregation. She said: “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, including 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.”

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