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Let's celebrate annual Staffordshire Day

Sandwell | News | Published:

First there was Black Country Day and now the call has gone out for Staffordshire Day to become an annual celebration of the 'creative county'.

Gavin Williamson, MP for South Staffordshire, is launching a bid to create Staffordshire Day, to celebrate its history and traditions.

The MP has chosen September 18, which is the birthday of Lichfield-born dictionary writer Dr Samuel Johnson.

Then there was Reginald Mitchell, whose work with planes culminated in the invention of the iconic Supermarine Spitfire, which played a pivotal role in the Battle of Britain.

The county gave us Vera Brittain, author of Testament of Youth, Ethelfleda, 'Lady of the Mercians', who fought back the Vikings and Izaak Walton, author of The Compleat Angler – the second most reprinted book in English after the King James Bible.

Staffordshire gave the world the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork, the Staffordshire Hoard, which was discovered in Hammerwich in 2009 which consists of more than 3,500 items. And it is home to the National Memorial Arboretum commemorating servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty.

There is Joseph Wedgwood and his pottery and the north of the county's heritage in ceramic production.

The first jar of Marmite was produced in Burton-upon-Trent and Branston Pickle also hails from the area, although now it is made in Bury St Edmunds.

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Mr Williamson has called on Staffordshire County Council and the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire to gather as much support for Staffordshire Day as possible.

The MP said: "I've seen other great counties pay tribute to their history and traditions and I think it's only right that we honour the wonderful County of Staffordshire. There is so much to celebrate from history, food, tradition and people that hail from this extraordinary area.

"In my research for Staffordshire Day, I discovered so much about the area that I think more people should learn about, especially the younger generations. It's a great opportunity for schools to get students involved in our history, as Staffordshire has played such a significant part in the shaping of our country.

"There are so many outstanding achievements from the County and it is providing a difficult decision to just choose one person to honour. My preferred choice so far would be to honour the birthday of Samuel Johnson, author of A Dictionary of the English Language. As well as his literary credentials, he was a man who fought for the rights of those who were less fortunate than himself, which is a quality that we should all admire.

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"I am interested to hear people's views on how, who and what they would celebrate about the great County of Staffordshire.

"I have called on the Lord Lieutenant and the County Council in order to gather as much support as possible, to make Staffordshire Day a reality."

Councillor Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: "It's a good idea. I have come across other places that have days to celebrate their cities or areas. It's going to need people and businesses to come together and play their part if it is to happen."

Last year saw the first festival to celebrate Black Country Day. The celebration takes place around July 14, which is the anniversary of the invention of the Newcomen steam engine.

Thousands of people took to the streets for a celebration of music, food, poetry and the industrial heritage of Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall. Talks are underway for another big celebration this year.

The Black Country flag, designed by schoolgirl Gracie Sheppard, was spotted across the country at places like the Glastonbury Festival and even around the world, at the World Cup in Brazil and with soldiers in Afghanistan.

Politicians including Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne gave their backing to the festival as well. Black Country Day is the same day as France's national day and Mr Cameron told the Express & Star: "Who needs Bastille Day when you've got Black Country Day?"

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