Community comes together to clean up cenotaph in Sunderland

Some of those who helped to clean up the memorial, including Jamie Phenny, far left, Darrin Neasham Carlisle, second left, and Chris Morritt, second from the right in the back row.
Some of those who helped to clean up the memorial, including Jamie Phenny, far left, Darrin Neasham Carlisle, second left, and Chris Morritt, second from the right in the back row.

Serving and former soldiers joined forces with members of the community as they cleaned up a Sunderland war memorial ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

Darrin Neasham Carlisle, 49, led an effort to restore the cenotaph in South Hylton to its full glory along with fellow former soldier Chris Morritt, and serving soldier Jamie Phenny.

From left to right, Jamie Phenny, Darrin Neasham Carlisle and Chris Morritt.

From left to right, Jamie Phenny, Darrin Neasham Carlisle and Chris Morritt.

They were left ‘amazed’ by the response as residents of the village came together to honour the fallen.

Darrin, from South Hylton, said: “It had been about five years since it had been cleaned, so we came together and decided to do it ourselves.

“I asked on Facebook if anyone would like to help us clean it up, and the response was amazing.

“I thought it would just be the three of us, but it ended up being 20 or 30 people. We were overwhelmed.

It was a true team effort and it was brilliant to see the community come together like that

Darrin Neasham Carlisle

“It was a true team effort and it was brilliant to see the community come together like that.”

As well as those who came forward to help clean the cenotaph, a number of donations were also made, including new planters for the memorial.

There are plans for more improvements to be made, with offers having come in for donations of benches and other items.

Flowers, soil and planters were donated by businesses in the area.

The community came together to help out.

The community came together to help out.

Resident Alan Breeze brought a power washer to help out, while Jacqueline Staness provided bacon sandwiches and Emma Neale donated £200 worth of plants.

The clean-up work took about two hours to complete, and the new planters will be in place before the weekend.

Darrin said: “The response we have had has been outstanding.

“We’ve even had people in Canada messaging us, whose relatives are on the cenotaph.

The trio were left 'overwhelmed' by the support they received.

The trio were left 'overwhelmed' by the support they received.

“It was a really proud moment when we finished and we could see it sparkling. It looks brilliant now.

“We’re determined to make sure it stays this way, and every week one of us will go there to clean it up.

“A lot of people have said it makes them feel proud to be from the village and we want to make sure it stays how it is.”

Darrin served in the 2 Rifles, Chris was an army dog handler and Jamie is still serving with 4 Para.

Darrin added: “It was a bit of a cathartic experience for us, and good for us to be able to get together and talk about things.

“That sort of thing is vital at this time of year for people who have served in the armed forces.”

Plants were donated by members of the community.

Plants were donated by members of the community.