PREPARATIONS are under way to mark Armed Forces Day on Wearside.
People of all ages will come together in appreciation of the work and sacrifice of Britain’s Army, Navy and Air Force at a three-day extravaganza this weekend.
Coinciding with other events across the country, Sunderland’s tribute aims to be one of the biggest of its kind in England and will take place at Seaburn Recreation Park.
Bosses at Thompson Building Centres, in Hendon, Sunderland, have stepped in to sponsor the bumper event, which starts on Friday.
Anne Ganley, chief executive of the firm, said: “As a company, we have long been involved with the armed services. Not only were we strong supporters of the Brothers in Arms appeal for a new war memorial in Sunderland, but we also take a keen interest in Military Mental Health, a charity set up to help former servicemen.
“We are delighted to be able to lend our support to Armed Forces Day and what promises to be a great weekend.”
Combining music and dancing with military tributes and displays, the event will raise awareness of the work of service personnel as well as allow the public to show their support for serving troops, veterans and cadets.
The final day of the event will be dedicated to this year’s London Olympics, featuring a series of games and competitions.
Organiser Paul Jasper, who served 23 years in the Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets, said: “We are hugely grateful to Thompson.
“With their help, this will be a fantastic weekend where people of all ages can have a great time and show their appreciation for the efforts and sacrifices made by our Armed Forces.”
Meanwhile, it has been announced that singer Junior Turner will be performing at the event on June 30 and July 1.
The 28-year-old, from Newcastle, found national fame in 2010 when he raised thousands of pounds for Children In Need with a cover version of Frank Sinatra’s The Impossible Dream.
The singer, who fought his way back from a life-threatening condition when medics found a blood clot on his lungs at the age of 17, also released Say Goodbye, a song he wrote, for veterans’ charity Help For Heroes.
It sold about 300,000 copies worldwide and in the Caribbean was top of the charts for two weeks.
Other businesses wishing to sponsor the event are asked to call 07710 690295 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Schools wishing to take part in the “mini-Olympics” competition should use the same contacts to confirm their attendance.
ARMED Forces Day will take place at Seaburn Recreation Park.
From Friday, June 29, to Sunday, July 1, the seafront at Roker will play host to a range of activities, including sports competitions between local schoolchildren, archery, go-karting and even a rock concert featuring the cream of the region’s talent.
From 10am, Saturday, June 30, the emphasis is on family fun with a fairground and the chance for all ages to try archery, go-karting and paintballing and an aircraft simulator.
There will be a five-a-side football competition, sporting displays from local karate and acrobatics groups along with stalls, which will be selling a variety of arts, crafts and locally-made goods.
Representatives from the Army, Royal Navy and RAF will also be manning static displays.
From about 5.30pm, local singers will entertain the crowds.
The day’s events will close in time for visitors to enjoy the Military Tattoo, organised by Sunderland City Council, at St Peter’s University Campus at 7pm.
On Sunday, July 1, at 11.30am, a parade of Army, Royal Navy and RAF cadets led by a military band will march along the seafront.
At 1pm, there will be a minute’s applause in appreciation of the Armed Forces.
In the afternoon, there will be a mini-Olympics, in which local schools will compete in a variety of sports day-style events, such as the egg and spoon and the three-legged races, before the weekend is rounded off with a tug of war between teams of serving and former members of each of the Armed Forces.