Sunderland shows support for armed forces as weekend of events kicks off

Bearpark and Esh Colliery Band performed at the opening ceremony.
Bearpark and Esh Colliery Band performed at the opening ceremony.
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Patriotic Wearsiders showed their support for the armed forces tonight as a weekend of events was kicked off.

The opening ceremony of Armed Forces Weekend began at the recreation ground in Seaburn.

The opening ceremony was held in Seaburn.

The opening ceremony was held in Seaburn.

It featured the raising of the flag, while visitors were entertained by the Bearpark and Esh Colliery Band.

Those in attendance took part in a singalong, while soprano Julie Pendleton and tenor John Rowland also performed. Paul Jasper, who served himself for 23 years with the Light Infantry, is the event’s organiser. This is its sixth staging.

He said: “When this started, it was because we wanted to recognise and celebrate the fact we have the best armed forces in the world.

“What I call the land of hope and glory concert starts it all off, but there’s so much planned for the weekend and I’m sure it’s going to be great.”

From left, consort Keith Macknight, organiser Paul Jasper and deputy mayor Doris Macknight

From left, consort Keith Macknight, organiser Paul Jasper and deputy mayor Doris Macknight

Tomorrow – Armed Forces Day – there will be a military march, while there are fairground rides for children and different stalls in Seaburn. An ABBA and Queen tribute band will perform tonight.

In the morning, meanwhile, the Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Alan Emerson, will be joined by the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Susan Winfield OBE, for the flag raising ceremony on the public concourse outside the council chamber.

On Sunday in Seaburn, there will be a dog show, a football competition and other events.

Martin Stoddart, 58, who served in the army between 1975 and 1980, was at last night’s ceremony with wife Alyson. He said: “This is just a way of saying thank you to the armed forces.

Andrew Maxwell, aged four, at the opening ceremony.

Andrew Maxwell, aged four, at the opening ceremony.

“When you leave the army, you always remain a part of the military family.”

Ex-Navy Dennis Crouch after raising the flag.

Ex-Navy Dennis Crouch after raising the flag.