Veteran thanks supporters after emotional march from South Shields to Seaham

An armed forces veteran has thanked well-wishers for the support he and other charity fundraisers received during a weekend march from South Shields to Seaham.

Tuesday, 24th November 2020, 3:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th November 2020, 3:24 pm

Trevor Gray led the procession on Saturday, November 21, which began in King Street in South Shields.

The group stopped for a two-minute silence at the town’s war memorial monument, before continuing on their route to Seaburn, Sunderland city centre and finally Seaham.

Mr Gray and his companions – including his father, who also served in the British armed forces, and Kevin Merritt – held the march in order to raise funds for a North East veterans charity, which provides therapy and other forms of support to former members of the British armed forces.

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The fundraising marchers going by the seafront

Mr Gray praised the generosity and support shown by South Tyneside residents along the fundraisers’ route.

He said: "People treated us very well – they were donating, they were stopping to chat with us, they were cheering us on through the town.

“We went along the beach and came to a little cafe truck [the Bessie’s Sweet Bakes van], which kept us going with free coffee.

“Then we carried on walking into Seaburn, where we stopped at the Morrisons and raised more money as shoppers admired the bagpipes performance.”

The marchers received free coffee from Bessy's Sweet Bakes van

The group managed to raise around £600 for the organisation, Veterans At Ease, which is planning to open two new charity shops, including one in South Shields.

According to Mr Gray, they were joined briefly on Saturday by the charity’s CEO, Garreth Murrell.

"After that, we went on to Roker and, by the time we got to the Tommy at Seaham, it was around 8 o’clock already,” Mr Gray recounted.

"It was pitch black by then, of course, but people were still out supporting us.

Marchers at the Seaham Tommy: (left to right) Pipe Major, Ian McCall; Wayne Crawford (friend); Trevor Gray; Kevin Merrett

"The atmosphere was unbelievable. The generosity from members of the public and the awareness that we were able to spread for Veterans At Ease.

"Now that people are aware that the services are there, we should hopefully get more people to come forward and get the support they need – whether it’s currently-serving personnel or formerly-serving veterans.”

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The marchers at the Seaham Tommy
The marchers at the Seaham Tommy
The marchers began their Saturday route at the South Shields war memorial