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Sheila the landlady, presented thirty five members with an excellent meal. Suffice it to say that the New Year was welcomed in true traditional style! It has been a very busy and exciting year for the Branch. None of the events would have taken place without the hard work of the members. It is difficult to mention all the names for fear of missing anyone out! So thank you to everyone.


Stockport Branch


East Cheshire Reunion. Some two hundred CRA Members and forty MVRA members attended. The evening included a display by the Corps of Drums of the 1st Battalion and music was provided by the Bollington Brass Band. Amongst the many guests was Lt Col Brian Clarke TD, Regimental Secretary MVRA. His first visit to the Reunion event was made even more memorable when he retired to the Armoury Inn afterwards, only to be retrieved by his son-in-law before too much damage was inflicted to the legs! Once again, it was an excellent Reunion.


The Stockport Branch turned out in force for the remembrance parade. Over three hundred from the many organisations attended. The Mercian Regiment was represented in company strength by soldiers from the 1st and 4th Battalions and the spectators numbered in excess of two thousand. After the parade, hot tea and coffee was provided at the Armoury TA Centre, followed by Sgt Gailey’s very welcome Hot Pot. The rest of the day was one big Reunion of friends and family. On the same day, a group of Branch members led by the Secretary, Peter Marsh, and Welfare Officer, Stuart Mc Donald, represented MVRA at the Menin Gate Memorial Remembrance Day Service at Ypres in Belgium. December was a busy month with members joining members of the Manchester and King’s Regimental Association at Ashton under Lyne for dinner to commemorate the Battle of Passchendaele. This was followed by a visit to Northern Ireland for a three day welcome by Col Bob Stewart for the re-siting of the Droppin’ Well Memorial in Ballykelly. It was twenty six years almost to the day on 6th December when five members of the INLA blew up the Droppin’ Well Inn, killing seventeen people and injuring sixty others. Of the seventeen killed, eight were from 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment. Mr Paul Lomas with The Branch Standard represented MVRA and he was again in action with the Branch Standard at the Mayor of Stockport’s ex-Servicemen’s Christmas Concert at St Mary’s Church, Stockport.


The Branch decided to see the old year out with a real Indian curry night at the Armoury Inn which, for those who don’t know, is the pub across the road from the TA Centre and serves as the alternative Branch HQ. There, the Commanding Officer,


The Mercian Eagle


Stockport Branch meets at The Armoury, Greek Street, Stockport.


Walsall


During 2008, meetings of the Branch were held in February, April, June, August, September and October at Rock Steady Eddie’s in Walsall. Eddie and Emma Hillback continue to allow the Branch to hold meetings and functions without charge. The Branch is extremely lucky to have such generous hosts. We celebrated our first anniversary in June with a Social Evening at Rock Steady Eddie’s complete with birthday cake. It has been a very busy year for the Branch. Our Standard was delivered and was first seen at the Branch meeting in June. Unfortunately, it did not arrive in time to be used at the Veterans’ Parade held in Birmingham. Its first official outing was at the TA100 Parade at Alrewas and was carried with great pride by our Standard bearer, Mac Powell. The Remembrance Parade in Walsall was very well attended. Ex-Mercians proudly marched in Walsall town for the first time in twenty years. Mac Powell carried the Standard and our Branch President, Maj Philip Jackson TD, laid a wreath on behalf of the Branch. We had the honour and pleasure to have with us on parade Pte Luke Cole MC from 4 MERCIAN who laid a wreath on behalf of 4 MERCIAN. Parade marshals and the rifle salute at the Walsall Cenotaph were provided by Senior NCOs and soldiers from 4 MERCIAN. Post parade, members and their families were invited to Rock Steady Eddie’s for an excellent buffet.


Our Branch Secretary, Rod Durbin, has kept the Branch in the public eye with his many articles in local newspapers. These have helped raised the profile of both the Regular and TA Mercian Battalions. Throughout the year, our social and fundraising committee, spearheaded by Stan Edwards and Philip Fairbrace with lots of willing help from their wives, has done a sterling job in organising raffles and car boot sales. A summer function to celebrate the Branch’s first anniversary was organised by them and the year culminated in a Grand Christmas Social in December. Stan was lucky enough to win the final prize at the Christmas Draw which he put to good use on Christmas Day. Special mention should also be made of Stan, Philip, Colin Carrington and their wives and partners who carried out a sponsored amble around the Walsall Arboretum. Having


Walsall Branch sponsored walk


negotiated the uneven terrain with ease and dodging the wild animals en route, the merry band reached the final objective without loss and raised the magnificent sum of £296. Of this, £150 was donated to Help for Heroes, £50 to the Combat Stress Charity and £96 to Branch funds. Congratulations to everyone concerned. The President of the Branch has received a personal letter form the organisers of the Combat Stress Charity.


Walsall Branch meets every two months, usually on the last Thursday, at Rock Steady Eddie’s, Stafford Road, Walsall, at 2000hrs.


Wolverhampton Walsall members and their new Standard


Members at Wolverhampton after the Birmingham Parade


The Branch meets on a regular basis at the United Services Club, Humber Road, Wolverhampton, on a Sunday Morning and is ably chaired by Eddie Hyde. New faces appear at the meetings and are very welcome. The Branch is now the proud owner of a Branch Standard which was paraded for the first time at the TA100 celebration and was carried by Mr S Verdi. We are pleased to see that he is now back in good health after his short stay in hospital. Informal meetings are also held at the Hog’s Head in Wolverhampton City Centre. For further details, contact the chairman Eddie Hyde! The Branch was present at the launch of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal at Bantock House, Wolverhampton. Members stood with their collecting boxes during the Wolverhampton Wanderers FC versus Burnley football match on 8 November and


October 2009 153


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