A warm welcome home for the 3rd Battalion

Staffordshire has always had a strong history with its armed forces as we look ahead to welcoming our men and women of the 3rd Battalion back from their tour of Afghanistan. They will be marching through our Staffordshire towns over the next week as part of their homecoming parades and I’m sure people will come out to wish them well. We are all very proud of our armed forces and it is always a pleasure to welcome our troops safely back home. They face dangers we cannot begin to comprehend and we are all in their debt for their courage and professionalism.

Stafford is also set to welcome two Signals Regiments and their families back from Germany next year and we have been busy planning for this with our partners. Plans include the building of 346 more MoD homes on Beaconside and preparations for a new 402-place primary school.

Our Armed Forces are also very much part of our local community and local organisations might also be interested to know about funding that’s available through the Armed Forces Community Grant scheme. “The scheme offers funding to support local armed forces, whether serving, veterans or cadets, to be involved in local community’s activities. It is well worth exploring, most organisations are eligible and lots of different services and projects are being considered from small events, to larger refurbishments of buildings. You can find out more about it at www.staffordshire.gov.uk

We’ll also be commemorating Armed Forces Day on 29 June which is another opportunity to reflect on the great sacrifices of our brave troops. This year’s services will be even more poignant as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.

As part of the county’s commemoration plans, our Archives team have produced a fasenating guide of Staffordshire’s WWI memorials and to help communities research the ones in their area. Featuring 114 memorials from 72 locations it includes the memorial to War Poet T.E. Hulme of Endon and Lance Corporal William Coltman, the highest decorated non-commissioned officer of the war. The famous Shot at Dawn memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum, unveiled in 2001 to commemorate 307 men executed by firing squad, including men from the Staffordshire Regiments is also featured. You can read more about our WWI commemorations and download the guide at www.staffordshiregreatwar.com

The National Memorial Arboretum will be a focus for the nation’s commemorations over the next four years and we are proud to have it here in our great county. We took the decision as a County Council to fund the site to the tune of £3m over six years, some of which will go towards the new buildings, the Veterans Pavilion and Heroes Square due to be finished at the end of the year.

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