Military past and future meet on Armistice Day at Sunderland's Beacon of Light
It was a poignant meeting between the past, present and future at the Beacon of Light as SAFC’s official charity commemorated Armistice Day while signing a new partnership to help train the military personnel of tomorrow.
Dignitaries including the Mayor, city High Sheriff and a host of military personnel were at the Beacon to witness the official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Foundation of Light and the Military Preparation College.
The partnership will see the college use the Beacon of Light’s sporting and academic facilities to help train the next generation of army, navy and RAF recruits.
Huw Moores, Director of Partnership Development at the college, said: “There’s a strong alignment between the core values of the college and Foundation of Light to work collectively for the best possible outcomes for young people.
"This signing cements that commitment to work together to support local people. I think it’s recognised the North East has always offered strong support to the Armed Forces. It’s important young people continue to get the opportunity to develop a career in the military for the benefit of themselves, the area, Armed Forces and nation.”
The significance of the signing taking place on the 103rd anniversary of the cease fire of World War One was not lost on those in attendance.
Huw added: “I think I speak on the behalf of everyone at the college about important it is to continue to remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Chief Executive Officer of the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association for North England, Paul Baker, himself a veteran of 34 years service in the Royal Logistics Corps.
Paul said: “I think it’s critical we continue to remember what happened 100-years-ago. I’m always humbled to see veterans and the public turn out in huge numbers to remember our fallen heroes. It’s a national event and I’m sure if they’re looking down they will see their sacrifice was not in vain.
"Today’s about bringing together sacrifices of the past, current service personnel and recruits of the future. Signing this agreement on Remembrance Day provides a significant opportunity to do this.”
The event also featured a parade and drills from Sunderland cadets who are currently attending the college, including 16-year-old Philip Coushing who was also selected to lay a commemorative wreath in the centre circle at the Stadium of Light before Tuesday’s game with Bradford City.
Philip, a Sunderland fan, said: “My great grandfather fought in Burma during World War Two and it was a real honour to be selected to lay the wreath. It’s really important to remember those who’ve lost their lives as without them we wouldn’t have the lives and freedom we have today.
"I think the connection with the football club will help encourage more young people to consider a career in the Armed Forces. I’m hoping to join the parachute regiment.”
The event was also attended by Veterans in Crisis Sunderland representative, Sam Neil, who served as a weapons engineer in the Royal Navy.
Sam, 52, said: “The forces teaches young people life-skills as well as discipline and respect. We will always need an army, navy and air-force.”
Thursday night saw landmarks across Sunderland lit red to mark Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.