Remembrance services: Ted's tattoo is basis for 'Tommy' statue

A manager at Shrewsbury Colleges Group who is a decorated former soldier, has creatively hand-crafted three wooden silhouettes from a tracing of a tattoo of a soldier he has on his arm.

Stewart 'Ted' Coxon and his handcrafted Tommy
Stewart 'Ted' Coxon and his handcrafted Tommy

Stewart Coxon, known to staff and colleagues as ‘Ted’ retired from the army after 24 years in 2013 and started working at Shrewsbury Colleges Group as commercial manager, where he has been organising Remembrance services ever since.

This Armistice Day marks the 75th year after the D-Day Landings, and to mark the occasion, Ted has hand crafted three, 8ft ‘Tommy’s’ using a tattoo of the famous soldier on his forearm.

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Ted took a photo of the artwork he got tattooed in 2017 and projected it on a board of MDF, before tracing it and cutting it out himself.

He has placed one at the three college campuses - London Road, English Bridge and Welsh Bridge - and they will form the backdrop to the services which all students and staff are invited to.

Ted, 47, originally from Durham, but now living in Shrewsbury, finished his service at Copthorne Barracks, Shrewsbury, in E Company as a regular Sergeant Major in charge of the Reservists.

Ted found out about his current role with Shrewsbury Colleges Group when he was in a mud hut in Africa where he was training the Ugandan People’s Defence Force to deploy to Somalia to fight Al Sha Baab.


“I was on a satellite phone in a mud hut to my wife, Cherelle, who had seen the job, then as commercial restaurant manager of Origins at Shrewsbury College and asked if I wanted to apply. She made the initial enquiry and I was invited to interview and eventually got the job.

“I loved the army,” said Ted. “But I was ready to leave after 24 years and I haven’t looked back.

"I’m well known by the students who often come and talk to me about my time in the army. I’m always happy to talk to students about my experiences.

"It’s a really important date in the calendar for me, and I am really passionate about encouraging my colleagues and students to pay tribute to all the men and women who lost their lives fighting for their country.

“I personally lost 17 of my friends and colleagues at the hands of the Taliban when I was in Afghanistan in 2010. Part of my role at the time saw me communicating with their wives and families at home. It was very emotional.”

All three campuses will be remembering the D Day landings 75 years on. College students will give a reading and recite a poem and the staff will carry out the Act of Remembrance.

The Last Post and Reveille will be performed by music students on various instruments.

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