Hundreds turn out for dedication ceremony to latest phase of Sunderland's Veterans' Walk
Scores of people with close links to the armed forces turned out for a moving ceremony to mark the latest expansion of Sunderland’s unique National Veterans’ Walk.
Around 250 stones bearing the names and regiment badges honouring those who have served were unveiled in a special dedication in the city’s Mowbray Park on Saturday, September 4.
It means there are now almost 1,000 of the dedication stones around the Brothers in Arms Memorial Wall, which was the brainchild of Tom and Carla Cuthbertson and city businessman Rob Deverson after three young men from Sunderland were killed in Afghanistan in 2008.
Tom, whose son Pte Nathan Cuthbertson, of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA), was killed while on foot patrol in Helmand Province, said: “It’s the only one in the country.
"We started six years ago and it has been slowly progressing.
"We have tried to reinforce it is about everybody that’s got a military background. We’re representing all the armed services and even the Merchant Navy.”
It was the first event to take place at the pathway since December 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Harry Trueman formally opened the latest phase of the walkway.
He said: “Tom and Rob who organised this project have a very simple motto – ‘they all stand equal’ and it is marvellous to know that Sunderland is leading the way in honouring all servicemen and women.
"Sunderland has one of the highest populations of ex-service personnel in the country, so it seems quite fitting that such an amazing tribute was started here.”
Many veterans and family members of current serving forces personnel turned out for the event along with numerous standard bearers and a piper.
Tom added: “I wasn’t expecting it to be like this coming out of Covid but it’s fantastic.”
Among those in the crowd and has a new stone in the path was 87-year-old George Coates, of Hastings Hill, who served in the RAF from 1955-1957.
He said: “It’s lovely. It’s something to leave behind for the family to remember.”
Tim Salisbury, 51, of Sunderland, has a close connection to four stones in the pathway including one for himself and one for his son Jamie Phenny who is still a member of the the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment.
Tim, who did five tours with the Royal Engineers in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, said: “I think it’s absolutely brilliant. I find it quite humbling when I’m down here looking at this.
"There’s so much history.”
His wife Michelle added: “It was because of tragedy that it’s all come about but they have channelled so much energy and time and given something back to every soldier.”
Four generations of 94-year-old RAF veteran Arthur Lambton Colquhoun’s family was there to see the stone bearing his name.
Next to it is one for his father, also called Arthur, who served in the first and second world wars and was awarded the Legion D’Honneur medal.
Arthur, from Seaburn, served in India in 1946-47. His daughter Val Colquhoun said: “I think it’s a great initiative. It’s fantastic what they have done.”