Family prepares to honour Sunderland paratrooper Nathan Cuthbertson with annual bike ride this weekend

Fundraising cyclists are taking on 60 miles in memory of a teenager who lost his life while serving in Afghanistan.

By Debra Fox
Thursday, 30 May, 2019, 10:58
Tom and Carla Cuthbertson and Cuthy's Big Bike Ride in 2018.

The annual Cuthy's Big Bike Ride, held in honour of Private Nathan Cuthbertson, is happening this Sunday.

Pte Cuthbertson was serving with the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) when he was killed while on foot patrol in Helmand Province in June 2008.

He was 19.

Since his death, family and friends have poured their energy into honouring his name and legacy, with an annual bike ride from Catterick Garrison,back to Ashbrooke in Sunderland.

Last year marked a decade of fundraising for Pte Cuthbertson's family and friends, with more than 200 people taking part in the 2018 bike ride.

The Veterans' Walk in Sunderland was thought up by Tom Cuthbertson.

More than 250 cyclists have signed up to take part on Sunday, with demand growing each year.

Dad Tom Cuthbertston, 49, takes part in the ride each year with wife Carla, 46.

Son Connan, 24, will also be cycling while son Blaine, 25, helps with the set-up and logistics of the event.

Tom said: "It's fantastic and it's getting bigger and bigger every year. Hopefully we are going to put things in place next year to take more - it's a great day.

A view of the Veterans' Walk in Sunderland.

"Everybody wants to help in some way or another."

A family day, held at Ashbrooke Sports Ground, is also happening on Sunday to welcome the cyclists home and raise as much money as possible for a range of organisations.

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It starts at 1pm, with riders expected to arrive back anywhere between 3pm and 4pm.

There will be live music, bouncy castles, a climbing wall and a whole host of other entertainment.

Carla and Tom Cuthbertson, along with their family and friends, have worked hard to keep Nathan's legacy alive.

The ride raises funds for a number of good causes, including local cat and dog shelters, youth clubs and the Not Forgotten Association, a charity supporting serving and ex-service men and women.

Sunday's ride will also tie in with the latest reveal of stones at Sunderland's Veterans' Walk, in Mowbray Park, which was established by Tom to honour the fallen, those who have retired from service and the brave men and women who currently serve - the first of its kind in the UK.

The pathway is made up of individual granite slabs, each engraved with the names and regimental crests of Forces Personnel.

The unveiling will happen on Saturday, June 1, at 11am, with Coun David Snowdon, Mayor of Sunderland, and legendary broadcaster and patron Kate Adie expected to be in attendance.

More than 400 stones have been laid so far, with the first being put down in November 2016.

Work taking place at the Veterans' Walk in Mowbray Park, Sunderland. Picture: Tom Cuthbertson.

Describing the walkway as something unique, Tom added: "People who never came home from World Wars, people who died and never had their bodies come back - their families have got somewhere to remember them, and they can be next to their sons and grandsons who are serving."

The Veterans' Walk supports SSAFA - the Armed Forces Charity, Sunderland Armed Forces Network and Brothers in Arms. The next phase of stones will be unveiled in November.