Memorial dream nearing reality

Members of Brothers in Arms. left to right; Carla and Tom Cuthbertson, Janice Murray,  Benda Gooch and Linda Fisken.
Members of Brothers in Arms. left to right; Carla and Tom Cuthbertson, Janice Murray, Benda Gooch and Linda Fisken.
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PLANS are well under way to have a new memorial to Sunderland’s fallen servicemen and women in place by Remembrance Sunday.

The Brothers In Arms appeal was set up by families of soldiers who have lost loved ones in recent conflicts or training, and surpassed its original fund-raising target to reach £118,471 so far.

Now the group has appointed Fitz Architects to see the project through to the construction stage, with the aim that it will be ready in time for Remembrance Sunday.

The Athenaeum Street-based company designed the memorial wall, which will be built next to the cenotaph, in Burdon Road.

It will consist of about 20 granite plinths, and bear the names of service personnel from Wearside who have been killed in active service since 1946.

The appointment of a project manager means the dream of the five families who launched Brothers In Arms is a major step nearer reality.

They include Tom and Carla Cuthbertson, from Tunstall, whose 19-year-old paratrooper son Nathan was killed while serving his country in Afghanistan in 2008.

Tom, 41, who heads the operation team, paid tribute to the hundreds of generous Wearsiders and city organisations who have backed it.

He said: “People have been so generous, not just with their money but with their time and advice.

“This wall means the world to us. It’s so important we never forget those who have been killed in the service of our country.”

Brothers In Arms’ Janice Murray’s 18-year-old son, Michael Tench, became one of the youngest victims of the Iraq conflict in January 2007.

Janice, 49, from Carley Hill, said: “I send my heartfelt thanks to everyone who donated money.”

Linda Fisken, 43, from Hendon, whose nephew Royal Marine Tony Evans, 20, was also killed in Afghanistan, in 2008, said: “It’s all thanks to the people of Sunderland – we couldn’t have done it without them.”

Her words were echoed by fellow Brothers In Arms founder member, Brenda Gooch, whose son Anthony Huntrod, 20, of Town End Farm, died after an explosion on board nuclear submarine HMS Tireless, while it was on manoeuvres in 2007.

“The generosity and support we have been given from everyone has been fantastic,” she said.

“To reach our target has allowed us to build the memorial wall much sooner than we all though. I would like to say a huge thank-you to everyone.”

Brothers In Arms was supported from its infancy by Sunderland-based Thompson’s Building Centres, which donated building materials and the use of its Commercial Road offices to the appeal.

The project has also been strongly backed by Sunderland Council and Mortons Solicitors, of High Street West.