Tag Archives: Mercian Regiment

Stockport’s Finest

17 May

Fairytale: Cpl Mark Ward gives the cup to Carlos Tevez

As much as I love Carlos Tévez who, my son tells me, was not who they had in mind when they invented High Definition tv,  the real hero in the top picture is the man in brown. 

(You can read the whole story here.)

He is Corporal Mark Ward of the Mercian Regiment: from Stockport, lifelong Man City fan, and holder of the Military Cross for bravery in Afghanistan.  He is one of the few people to have presented the FA Cup – it’s usually royalty – and as a City fan must have been over the Blue Moon.

It is Corporal Ward and others like him who are the ones who should be earning hundreds of thousands of pounds a week.  There’s something wrong in a world that values actors and sports people above the military, police, teachers, medics, bin men and others who make our lives better and safer.

A Stockport Something To Be Proud Of

10 Nov

Note: the photos are not in chronological order.  Click on them to enlarge.

Today, the 1st Batallion Mercian Regiment, based in Stockport, has returned from Afghanistan and has been awarded the freedom of Stockport (see article here).  The Hub and I collected some friends and went along to welcome them home.

The regiment took part in a short service at our famous 750 year old market place (so famous I forgot to mention it in my what’s good about Stockport post) before marching through the streets, past the town hall and into the armoury.  We arrived early and found a prime spot above the Chestergate taxi rank.  Crowds were respectable, and got bigger nearer the town hall.  Many people followed the regiment through the town.

There was a large police presence; I’m not sure whether it was for traffic or protests, but everything went off peacefully.  It was good to see many of the cops wearing poppies; shamefully, some forces banned them last year.

As the regiment passed us going up to St Petersgate, the band leader did an impressive swoop with his massive baton – which was unfortunate for the soldier just behind him, who would have had a very public sex change if his reactions hadn’t been sharpened by months fighting off the Taliban.

One soldier called out ‘Thank you!’ to the crowd as he passed, and the Hub shouted back, ‘It’s us who should be thanking you.’  My hands were red raw and my arms ached from all the clapping.  I haven’t seen a whole battalion since my brother passed out in the Seventies and I hadn’t realised how large it is, but I made sure to clap every man and woman who marched by.


The Hub noticed that many of the soldiers were as short or shorter than him, and wondered if it isn’t small man syndrome that makes them sign up.  A friend of ours is tiny; he was a para in the Falklands War.

Once the whole regiment had passed us we drove around to the Armoury to cheer them again.  They are so young, it’s frightening.  We saw one soldier in a wheelchair, propelling himself with his remaining leg.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I got a little choked up: even though we know these soldiers and others are out there in Afghanistan, it’s easy to switch off the news and forget them; and many people do.  I felt incredibly proud of each and every one, and if you are reading this and have a loved one in the military, please know that some of us are grateful and humbled by their dedication and bravery.

There were many Gurkhas in the regiment, wearing their distinctive Khukuri knives.  As they walked through Stockport after they had been allowed to fall out, most of them were still wearing them.  It is said that, once drawn, the Khukuri may not be sheathed again until it has drawn blood.  I believe Stockport youths have the same tradition about their knives on Saturday nights out.

We were amazed to see soldiers walking into McDonalds; I can’t say it’s the first place I’d go after months in Afghanistan.  Surely Army food can’t be that bad?


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