Fundraising heroes hit the road in memory of Sunderland soldier Nathan Cuthbertson
Dozens of dedicated fundraisers have hit the road in memory of a Sunderland soldier who died in Afghanistan.
Tom and Carla Cuthbertson have devoted themselves to preserving the memory of son Pte Nathan Cuthbertson, who was serving with the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) when he was killed while on foot patrol in June 2008.
Nathan, 19, was one of three paratroopers who died when a lone insurgent detonated an explosive in Helmand Province.
The couple hold Cuthy’s Big Ride – an annual fundraising bike ride – in his honour, with the proceeds going to Armed Forces charities as well as local good causes.
Covid put paid to 2020’s ride and meant this year’s had to forgo the usual route from Catterick Garrison to Sunderland in favour of a round trip from Sunderland to Hartlepool and back, culminating in a celebration at Ashbrooke Sports Ground.
A knee injury meant Tom was forced to sit out it this year, but Carla still took part.
“When we come up from Catterick, we are riding on the roads so we can get a bit of a pace up,” she said.
"But we were riding on tracks this time which were soaking wet, so it was difficult.”
Carla added: “It is a massive turn-out. We are really happy with it.”
This year’s event will raise more than £2,000.
Tom said this year’s ride had been given an extra poignancy by current events in Afghanistan, with some members of the Parachute Regiment who had been due to take part deployed to the country at short notice.
Speaking to the Echo, he said: “You do ask yourself ‘What have they died for?”
"I think it was right to pull the troops out but I don’t think anybody expected the Tablian to take over so quickly. It is so upsetting to think of those lives that have been lost.”
Among those taking part were Lee Brown, 45, who was on his fourth ride. It was ride number 11 for 50-year-old Gary Edmundson, who added: “It was excellent.
"It was just such a great atmosphere.”
Visit facebook.com/Cuthys200 for more information.