Dads staging protest on Sunderland bridge thank public for support

Danny, left, from Wearside, and John, from Gateshead, are prepared to stay on Sunderlands Queen Alexandra Bridge for several weeks.
Danny, left, from Wearside, and John, from Gateshead, are prepared to stay on Sunderlands Queen Alexandra Bridge for several weeks.
0
Have your say

Two dads staging a peaceful protest on Sunderland's Queen Alexandra bridge say they are in good spirits despite last night's heavy rain.

The pair, members of campaign group Real Fathers For Justice (RFFJ), scaled the bridge early yesterday - Father's Day - and unfurled a 25ft banner saying 'Happy Fatherless Day'.

Leigh Davison, left, and Simon Anderton are supporting the protesters on Sunderland's Queen Alexandra Bridge.

Leigh Davison, left, and Simon Anderton are supporting the protesters on Sunderland's Queen Alexandra Bridge.

The banner has been attached to the railing on the north side of the bridge, and the men - identified only as Danny, 42, from Wearside, and John, 34, from Gateshead - are preparing for a lengthy stay.

RFFJ spokesman and co-founder Leigh Davison has been in communication with the pair.

"Both John and Danny remain in good spirits despite getting a soaking last night," he said.

"The rain was persistent and caused a lake where they'd set up their shelters.

The pair's campsite on top of Queen Alexandra Bridge

The pair's campsite on top of Queen Alexandra Bridge

"They have plenty of supplies to continue. And the weather is better today."

Danny said: "I'm grateful for all the support from drivers beeping horns and passers by shouting and waving.

"We're overwhelmed by the coverage in the press then the reaction on social media, clearly this protest has struck a chord with many.

"I hope it inspires others to get involved in the campaign in the same way Simon Anderton's protest on the Tyne bridge inspired me last year

The scene on top of Queen Alexandra Bridge during yesterday's downpour

The scene on top of Queen Alexandra Bridge during yesterday's downpour

"If I wasn't on the bridge with John, I would've spent Father's Day alone at home with my negative thoughts.

"I think by doing this protest, it has been something positive and constructive that helps me keep going

"Speaking to John, he feels the same that this is the happiest we have both felt in 4 years.

"People came to the bridge last night especially to see us to give us their support after reading the story in the newspaper, that meant a lot.

The view from the top of Queen Alexandra Bridge.

The view from the top of Queen Alexandra Bridge.

"My life had turned upside down following my separation, I now have hope that I can get through this situation."

RFFJ says the action is to highlight failings in the family courts.

"Our members have so much anguish because they can't see their children," said Mr Davison.

"Father's Day and Christmas are when you see particular spikes in suicide rates among men.

"It's really difficult if you can't see your kids, especially if you know they could be just round the corner.

"Danny and John plan to stay up there as long as they can. It could be anything from several days to several weeks."

Northumbria Police has requested the men come down from the bridge, which remains open to traffic and pedestrians, and will continue to monitor the situation.

A spokesman said: "At 5:21am on Sunday, June 19, police received a report that two men had climbed up the Queen Alexandra bridge in Sunderland.

"Officers attended and made contact with the two men, who claim to be carrying out a protest on the bridge.

"We have requested they come down and will continue to monitor the situation.

"The bridge remains open for traffic and pedestrians at this time."