A NAVY veteran has called for Wootton Bassett to be given a Royal seal of approval.

But one group who won’t be signing a petition are the residents of the town themselves – who say they don’t need any recognition.

Bill Thomas, who served with the Royal Navy in the 1960s and ‘70s, has called for the town to be renamed Royal Wootton Basset in light of residents’ dedication to saluting the repatriation of fallen soldiers.

“People in Wootton Bassett are unbelievable,” he said. “The dedication and respect they show to those soldiers is a real inspiration.

“When they stand out on the street and show their respects for the soldiers they are doing it for the whole country.

“I don’t mean any disrespect to the people of Wootton Bassett by suggesting this but I just felt that something should be done to say thank you to them for what they are doing on our behalf.”

Bill, who works for Swindon-based firm Transline, wrote a letter to the Queen urging her to bestow the honour.

The award has only ever been granted to two other towns – Royal Leamington Spa and Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Bill said: “I’m just an ordinary guy so the Queen and the Government is not going to take much notice of me, but if I can get as many people as possible behind me and hopefully get a celebrity involved we could give Wootton Bassett the recognition it deserves.”

A Facebook.com website called “Make Wootton Bassett.... Royal Wootton Bassett” has already been set up and has 67 members.

Another Facebook group entitled “Thank You Wootton Bassett” has attracted almost 140,000 people.

But according to South Wootton Bassett councillor Chris Wannell the people of the town are unlikely to be signing up to the campaign.

“We don’t want it,” said Coun Wannell. “We don’t want recognition for what we do.

“We do it because we want to pay our respects to the Armed Forces. I’m pretty sure anyone in Wootton Bassett would tell you the same.”

Wootton Bassett Mayor Coun Steve Bucknell agreed royal patronage would not be welcome.

He said: “We should be concentrating our efforts on paying our respects to those who have fallen and offering comfort to their families. That is what the repatriations are about.

“Only after the last repatriation has passed through Wootton Bassett should there even be any discussion of how we should commemorate them.

“Even then it should only be so future generations remember what happened.”

Coun Bucknell said a ceremony last October in which members of the Armed Forces paid tribute to the efforts of Wootton Bassett people was thanks enough.

He said: “It was a marvellous honour and we were humbled that the Armed Forces would do that for us.

“We didn’t expect anything and that is still the case.”