THEY are the household names that line all our high streets.
However seven stores who like to paint a community-friendly image have refused to get behind our troops.
Asked to put up a simple poster produced by the Daily Echo supporting The Tigers – Hampshire’s own Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment (PWRR) – seven refused, even though the brave boys and girls will be marching right past their doorsteps next week.
Ex-servicemen have called it “nauseating”.
Now they are demanding the shops change their stance.
More than 160 soldiers from The Tigers will march through Winchester on Monday.
Hundreds of people are expected to line the streets to celebrate the event, similar to when thousands lined the roads of Southampton and Romsey to welcome the soldiers back to their homeground in 2009.
Twenty shops backed the poster campaign straight away with some, such as Jack Wills and the West Cornwall Pasty Company, even asking for extra copies.
But , travel agent Kuoni, tea and coffee merchant Whittard of Chelsea, shoe shop Clarks, phone seller O2, bookmaker Coral and Cafe Nero all snubbed the campaign.
Many cited “head office policy” as the reason they could not support our armed forces.
Marks & Spencer initially did not display the poster but are now doing so.
Rodney Hawkins, president of the Totton and Eling branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “Anybody who does this has not much love for this country. It’s a bit nauseating really.
“The board of directors of these big chain shops have probably never been in the forces and are probably on salaries you and I can never dream of.”
Ex-Royal Marine and current Winchester city councillor Simon Cook said: “What harm can it be, to put a sign up and then take it down afterwards?
“For God’s sake – if you do not have the initiative to show the appreciation of our services for a single day, then God help us. If I was a young man marching past, I’d be disappointed if people didn’t show support.”
Southampton branch secretary of the Royal British Legion Archie Parsons said it was a question of appreciation.
“It’s a great shame. A number of companies just don’t appreciate what our armed services do.
“I think the vast majority of people in the UK do support the armed services, but there is a small number who don’t. It’s sad because they need our support.
“I do hope that they will relent and change their minds and agree to put something up, because the more publicity, the more people will attend.”
Winchester mayor Cllr Ernie Jeffs blasted those not taking part. He said: “I find it very, very disappointing. A lot of these organisations are signed up to the BID and I would have thought they would want to integrate themselves with Winchester. I think they’re missing the point.
“We have signed up to a community covenant with the army and it sounds like these companies are not really in the spirit of it at all.”
The parade takes place under the right of Freedom of Entry, an ancient privilege that allows some regiments to parade through the city with “bayonets fixed, drums beating and colours flying”.
The regiment was formed in 1992 when the Royal Hampshire Regiment amalgamated with the Queen’s Regiment.
The event has been arranged jointly by the city council and the regiment to celebrate its return from Afghanistan.
The grand event will start from the Peninsula Barracks at noon and will see the soldiers marching down the High Street to The Broadway.
The parade will halt in front of the Guildhall and form up for inspection and speeches at 12.10pm. Then the parade will march around King Alfred statue and back along the lower High Street before a reception at the Guildhall.
The Stores which said NO:
- Caffe Nero
The stores which said YES:
- Jack Wills
- Moss Bros
- Lloyds TSB
- Fat Face
- Pasty Presto
- Zoo Jewellers
- British Heart Foundation
- Union Jacks
- Lloyds Pharmacy
- Crown And Anchor
- West Cornwall Pasty Company
- Marks & Spencer