Thousands turn out as 4th Regiment Royal Artillery parade through Sunderland

4th Regiment Royal Artillery parade through Sunderland's Fawcett Street on Saturday, July 30, 2016.

4th Regiment Royal Artillery parade through Sunderland's Fawcett Street on Saturday, July 30, 2016.

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Thousands of Wearsiders welcomed soldiers to Sunderland as 4th Regiment Royal Artillery paraded through the city.

About 200 servicemen and women from the regiment marched on the city's war memorial in Mowbray Park.

Sergeant Simon Facey, from Sunderland, of 4th Regiment Royal Artillery.

Sergeant Simon Facey, from Sunderland, of 4th Regiment Royal Artillery.

The regiment, known as the North East Gunners, was granted the civic honour by the people of Sunderland in 1974 and last exercised its right to march through the city in 2014

They are known as the North East Gunners because more than two-thirds of recruits are drawn from across the region.

The regiment marched down Fawcett Street, onto High Street West, through Market Square and back to the war memorial, cheered on by thousands of well-wishers.

Wearsider Sergeant Simon Facey was one of those who took part in the parade.

"It has been brilliant," said Sgt Facey, 37, who lives in Farringdon in Sunderland.

"For the regiment to parade through the city like this, we feel a real sense of coming home.

"I'm 5ft 10in but doing this makes me feel 6ft 2in tall.

"It's great to see everyone out on the streets too. The people of the city make it even more special."

Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Alan Emerson, said: "This is a unique ceremony in Sunderland and I really think it shows the link between the city and the Armed Forces.

"The execution of the parade is very professional, it was a tremendous performance from the regiment.

"The people of Sunderland always turn out in force and show their appreciation as well, which is fantastic."

One male member of the regiment appeared to collapse as he and comrades stood to attention in front of the war memorial.

He was later seen being attended to by medical staff.