Sunderland marks Armed Forces Day

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WEARSIDE paid tribute to the brave men and women of our armed forces with a series of events over the weekend.

Herrington Country Park played host to three days of activities to mark Armed Forces Day.

Herrington Country Park was the venue for an Armed Forces Day parade on Saturday.

Herrington Country Park was the venue for an Armed Forces Day parade on Saturday.

Saturday saw a parade by cadets and veterans in front of Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Bob Heron.

A party from Sunderland’s adopted ship HMS Ocean was also present, including local lad, Leading Hand Pete Ross.

Former Thornhill School pupil Pete, 24, still lives in Sunderland with wife Aimee and son Caleb.

He joined the Navy in 2010 and served aboard the Ark Royal before joining HMS Ocean.

“It is a great idea that Sunderland is celebrating the work that is being carried our by our armed forces all over the world,” he said.

“I have been looking forward to today as the Royal Navy is always given a great reception in the North 
East.”

Organiser Paul Jasper, who spent 23 years in the Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets, said it was important to show backing for the Armed Forces.

“People tend to get Armed Forces Day mixed up with Remembrance Day, but this is a chance for the general public to celebrate the people who serve our country,” he said.

“We have the best armed forces in the world and that is something to be proud of.”

Among those on hand on Saturday morning were Derek and Catherine Allen, who had brought eight-year-old daughter Grace to the park from their home in Murton. Their son James, 13, is keen to become a 
soldier.

“I tried to join up myself when I was 17, but failed the medical due to a heart murmur,” said Derek.

“I have a lot of family in the forces so it’s important to support things like this.”

The three-day event included fairground rides, live music, a dog show and five-a-side competition, jazz bands, parades and a Last Night of the Proms-style concert.

The highlight of the weekend came as thousands of people lined the streets on Saturday afternoon to see the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery parade through the city centre.

The regiment, known as the North East Gunners because more than two thirds of its recruits are drawn from the region, was granted the Freedom of the City in 1974.