ANGER is growing in Nuneaton and Bedworth over defence cuts that will devastate a regiment that draws many of its recruits from the borough.
The government has announced drastic cuts to the Armed Forces that will include the axing of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
More than 200 of the soldiers in the threatened battalion are from Nuneaton and Bedworth and the surrounding area.
Four years ago, they were given Freedom of Entry of the Borough, the highest honour the two towns can bestow.
Bedworth mum Carol Valentine, whose 29-year-old son Sergeant Simon Valentine was killed while serving in the fusiliers in Afghanistan, has joined the campaign to save the soldiers’ jobs.
Her other son Zak, who is 26, has followed Simon into the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and she is urging people to sign a nationwide, online petition against the cuts.
She said: "These soldiers are our local lads and what the government is doing to them is appalling, but if we can get a million signatures the cuts will have to be debated by MPs in Parliament.
"What is happening is absolutely devastating and the timing is atrocious. Some of the lads are waiting to be deployed out to Afghanistan for a third time and what must they be thinking. Instead of coming home to a medal they will come home to a P45.
"When you are in the fusiliers, you are part of a family and this decision will devastate their spouses and their children and all of the people who work on the camps.
"They also have to be re-housed and found jobs when there are no jobs about and they have to be rehoused.
"We realise there has to be restructuring and we have to move forward, but this is a political decision. They are leaving the Scottish regiments alone and the fusiliers are being made the scapegoats.”
She said that her son's wife Gemma and his daughters Chantelle and Niamh are devastated at the news: "On Simon's grave the inscription reads '2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers' and that is their link. But it will soon no longer exist. It will be like losing him again.”
Teenager Louis Carter from Nuneaton, was killed at the same time as Sgt Valentine in August 2009 while serving in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Mrs Valentine is hoping to get permission to collect signatures for the petition on a stall in both Nuneaton and Bedworth town centres.
“These lads can't speak out publicly or go on strike, but they put their lives on the line defending us and the least we can do is to defend them,” she said.
Anyone who wants to support the petition can do so online at http://bit.ly/PibsVi