Maple Hayes School BBC School Report 2017
Sgt. Watchman V
Mr Greg Hedges and mascot of the Staffordshire Regiment Association, Sgt. Watchman V, were announced as winners in the ‘Ambassador of the Year’ category at the recent Express and Star “The Great Big Thank you Awards 2016”, presentedby Steve Bull, MBE.
Express and Star "Abassador of the Year"
Mr Hedges, whose grandson attends Maple Hayes School, generously donated his prize to the school, for the students and staff to enjoy visits to the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre over the coming year.
The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, first opened its doors in 1894. The building was designed by architect Charles J. Phipps and the £10,000 construction was undertaken by local builder, Henry Gough. Much of the façade of the building has remained unchanged and remains one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in the city of Wolverhampton today.
The first production held at the theatre was called “Utopia Limited” and was staged by the world-renowned D’Oyly Carte Opera company, and the debut performance was to a capacity crowd of 2151.
Over the years the theatre has played host to a number of icons of the stage and screen. In 1902, Charlie Chaplin appeared in a production of ‘Sherlock Holmes’. Most recently, former X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke took to the stage in ‘Sister Act’, and Coronation Street actress Shobna Gulati played in the stage version of ‘Anita and Me’.
In addition, a number of politicians have also taken to the stage, speaking at rallies or for election campaigns. Including Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George, shortly before they were elected Prime Minister.
Wolverhampton Grand is a long established theatre in the heart of the Midlands. It receives a wide range of major touring productions including drama, musicals, ballet, dance, opera, variety, concerts, children's shows and one of the biggest pantomimes in the UK, with audiences from across the region and beyond taking advantage of excellent transport links to the town. Admired by performers and audiences alike for its intimate three-tiered Victorian auditorium, the Grand celebrated its 120th anniversary in December 2014.
The Grade 2 listed building, with its seating capacity of 1200, underwent a complete remodelling and renovation of the Front of House area in the Summer of 2016.
During the next few years, there will be emphasis given to re-establishing the Theatre’s history of producing quality “in house” theatre for the people of Wolverhampton and beyond.
We were welcomed to the theatre for an access-all-areas tour and then we had the opportunity to interview four key members of the Grand Theatre team: Adrian Jackson, Chief Executive and Artistic Director; Anthony Aston, Head of Lighting and Sound; John Harrison, Fundraising and Ian Watkins, who spoke to us about the history of the Grand Theatre.
Sgt. Watchman V
In 1882 The South Staffordshire regiment was ordered to march with Lord Wolseley to the relief of General Gordon who was besieged in Khartoum. The regiment took with them their Staffordshire Bull Terrier “Boxer”. Unfortunately, Boxer leapt from a moving train and was last seen lying unconscious, presumed dead at the side of the track.
It was not until a few days later when the regiment were at camp some 200 miles away, that a thin, bedraggled dog staggered in to camp to rejoin his regiment. He was a true soldier. From then on the tradition of having a Bull Terrier as a mascot continued with the regiment.
We met Watchman V who took over duties on October 5th 2009 and his handler, Mr G Hedges. Watchman V marches at events that feature the Staffordshire Regiment Association or where he has been granted Freedom of the town or village. In addition, he attends many public events, military ceremonies and regimental funerals.
In October 2016, Mr G Hedges and Watchman V, were shortlisted for the Express and Star “Big Thank you” awards in the Ambassador of the year category, and were announced winners, chosen by public vote, in March 2017.
Watchman V has his own webpage: http://www.watchmanv.com and you can also find him on Facebook: @WatchmanStaffordshire
The Staffordshire Regiment Museum at Whittington Barracks
The Staffordshire Regiment Museum tells the story of the Staffordshire Regiment, from its formation in Lichfield in 1705. The museum is situated alongside Whittington Barracks near Lichfield, which is the historical home of the regiment.
We were given a guided tour of the World War 1 replica trench constructed in the grounds. The Coltman Trench, named after Lance Corporal William Coltman VC serves as a memorial to him and all of the other soldiers of the Staffordshire who served in the Great War. Here we were able to discover what life was like for soldiers living and fighting in the trenches in the Great War.
In the museum classroom we compared the uniforms of officers and private soldiers from the Great War; and were able to see the kit that they would have to carry with them on a daily basis.
In the museum itself we were able to explore the various collections on display – in particular the Great War displays.
Some interesting facts:
- If you ever find a gas mask in an attic or antique shop, you should never put it near or on your face as it contains asbestos, which could be fatal if you breathe it in.
- The biscuits that the soldiers were given to eat were so hard to bite that they had to dunk them in their tea or coffee or soup to soften them enough to eat.
- The soldiers uniform was always made of wool.
- When a soldier got badly injured and were beyond treatment, they had an M on their forehead and were given a cuppa and a cigarette for the last moments of comfort.
- The soldiers had metal helmets to prevent head injuries; to stop the shine, which would attract the enemy’s attention, cloth was wrapped around them.
- Disused petrol cans were used to store water. But because the water tasted of petrol residue, chlorine tablets were used – they didn’t make any difference – just added to the ‘unusual’ flavour!
- The soldiers used their fellow dead soldiers hands as ash trays, the only way to boost morale. The soldiers would also touch the hand for good luck and believed that it would keep them safe.
- Soldiers used periscopes to see over the trenches – as sticking their head over the trench would be too much of a target. 2 pieces of mirror and a some wood worked surprising well (plus you kept your head).