Road Named After Gosport Soldier

A road in Gosport has been named after a local soldier who died in Afghanistan.

Sapper William Blanchard was shot dead while trying to destroy an Improvised Explosive Device in October 2010.

Residents, VIPs and members of the family gathered together on Saturday 6 April for a road naming ceremony in Alver Village, Rowner to honour the man known as “The Colonel”. His widow Sue Blanchard was Guest of Honour as the Rowner Renewal Partnership and the Borough of Gosport honoured her late husband at Blanchard Avenue, Rowner, Gosport, Hampshire.

Sapper Blanchard of 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment was 39 and lived in Gosport. He was part of the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Task Force and had been deployed to Afghanistan in September 2010. On 30 October 2010 his team was in the process of destroying a device when they were engaged by small arms fire. During the engagement Sapper Blanchard was struck by a bullet and died from the injuries he sustained.

Lt Col Mark Davis, commanding officer Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Task Force, said:

"Sapper Blanchard was a father figure to the younger elements of the squadron. He was always concerned with their development and welfare, always displaying an interest in what they were doing and always keeping them informed - he was the consummate professional and it was not for nothing that he was known as 'The Colonel'.

Sue Blanchard said at the ceremony:

"Will was a wonderful husband, son, brother, father, brother-in-law, son-in-law and friend. He is sorely missed and always in our hearts; never forgotten by his family, friends and colleagues. This is a happy day for us all and we are delighted that Will has been honoured in this way. Orange was his favourite colour and he would have a smile on his face to see the colour chosen for ribbon and the balloons released to celebrate his life!”

The Mayor of Gosport, Cllr Richard Dickson, said:

"The people of Gosport and the country owe Sapper Blanchard a great debt of gratitude for his commitment to the security of our country as a TA Reservist. I am indeed privileged to be Mayor at this time and it is a mark of respect that we remember him here today and Blanchard Avenue will be a permanent memorial to him and a reminder of his bravery for the many generations to come.”

Blanchard Avenue is within the multi-million pound Rowner regeneration development now known as Alver Village. It will form the main avenue running the length of the renewal area when the project completes. Currently the avenue is within the completed first phase of the area.