Defence boss backs call for memorial to Sunderland troops

Shadow Defence Minister Jim Murphy (right) and Houghton MP Bridget Phillipson meet with Brothers in Arms representative Brian Carr.
Shadow Defence Minister Jim Murphy (right) and Houghton MP Bridget Phillipson meet with Brothers in Arms representative Brian Carr.
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SHADOW Defence Secretary Jim Murphy praised Wearsiders for their swift success in working to build a memorial for the city’s fallen heroes.

Labour’s chief defence spokesman – who visited North East troops in Aghanistan last month – gave the Brothers in Arms campaign his support on a visit to Wearside.

Mr Murphy also announced he would request a senior politician take part in Sunderland’s Remembrance Sunday commemorations this year.

He said: “You can’t fail to be impressed by what the campaign has achieved. The community has raised £100,000 for this is such a short time and it’s an indication of the level of respect and admiration people up here have for the armed forces.

“I just think it’s fantastic.”

The East Renfrewshire MP and former Scottish Secretary said Remembrance should not come just once a year but every day.

He said it should not be for Government to tell everyone to remember the country’s fallen heroes, and “grass roots” organisations such as Brothers in Arms had a big part to play.

Mr Murphy was speaking at the Hetton Centre in Welfare Road, where he met Brothers in Arms member Brian Carr.

The campaign is organised by several families of servicemen and women from the Wearside area who have lost loved ones in recent conflicts and training.

The wall, due to be completed in time for Remembrance Day this year, will be next to Sunderland’s cenotaph in Burdon Road and bear the names of servicemen and women from the area killed in active service since 1946.

Brian’s son Tony, a Lance Corporal in the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, was killed when his armoured vehicle overturned near Salisbury Plain in 2004.

Brian, 60, a retired paramedic from Grangetown, said it was important to get the backing of Mr Murphy, but the “phenomenal” support of people in Sunderland should not be ignored.

“The money for this has been raised by the people of Sunderland. We’ve had old women putting their hands in their bands and giving us fivers – and this is in a time of austerity. It’s just been phenomenal,” he said.

The Brothers in Arms meeting with Mr Murphy was organised by Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson, who has been supporting the campaign.

* Brian Carr is hosting a memorial evening on March 11 to remember his son and raise money for the Coldstream Guards in Afghanistan charity. For more information tel: 07990657734.-