HUNDREDS turned out to help mark the centenary of World War I through a showcase of skills and stories.
Members of the Bethany City Church at Bede Tower in Burdon Road, Sunderland, initially planned to put on a display of forgotten traditional crafts as part ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
But today’s Remembering the Past at Bede Tower event turned into a festival as members and visitors paid tribute to Sunderland’s war dead through a host of activities.
The former military hospital, which was bought from Sunderland High School by the church two years ago, saw the congregation serve trench soup along with tea and cakes, with a section of it dedicated to displaying crafts such as quilting, sewing, crochet, clippy mats and lace making.
Demonstrations of the skills and a chance to try them out was also featured during the event.
The council’s Sunderland In The First World War exhibition also visited, displaying the stories of war heroes from Wearside and also encouraged people to pass on the details of their relatives who saw action as the project compiles information about the city’s war efforts.
Thomas Cummings, who lives in Tunstall and is a member of the North East Military Vehicle Club, took along his 1940 K2 Austin Ambulance.
The vehicle is the world’s oldest ambulance still on the road and was bought from a private collectors’ museum in Belgium.
Families were invited to see inside and sit in the cab as well as check out the back, which is filled with artefacts collected from the era which would have been on board when it was in use.
Thomas said: “It’s nice for me to be able to show people this and talk to the about what it would have been like.
“People are just astounded by the ambulance and see you could take four in on stretchers or 17 walking wounded, now you can only get one in a stretcher on an ambulance.”
The day also featured the Paint A Poppy project, which has seen Ian Potts teach watercolour painting across the city using a poppy motif for more than a year, with the finished images are used to create an installation at St Aidan’s Catholic Academy on Tuesday, November 11.
Those who have taken part include Kai Cuthbertson, a relation of Private Nathan Cuthbertson, who died in 2008 in a suicide attack in Afghanistan, and 101-year-old Virginia Acheson, from Glenhome Care Home in Roker.
The church’s pastor David Burke, who took talks about the role of chaplains during the conflict as part of the day, said: “We are chuffed to bits with how it has gone.
“We prayed for lots of people, but not too many and that’s what we’ve got and we’re over the moon about the response.
“The team have done a great job.”
Beamish Museum also supported the event.