Sunderland's Tom and Carla Cuthbertson awarded MBEs in New Year's Honours for charity work honouring son Nathan's memory
A Sunderland couple who channeled the grief of losing their teenage son into raising £350,000 for city charities have been awarded MBEs in the New Year’s Honours list.
Tom and Carla Cuthbertson suffered every parent’s worst nightmare when their son Pte Nathan Cuthbertson, of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA), was killed while on foot patrol in Helmand Province in June 2008.
It was a devastating incident which would scar their lives forever, but since that dark day the couple have turned unimaginable tragedy into a force for good.
Among their many charitable endeavours are: creating the Brothers in Arms charity, organising the annual Cuthy’s 200 bike ride , creating the Brothers in Arms Memorial Wall in Mowbray Park and its neighbouring Veterans’ Walk – all driven by keeping Nathan’s name alive.
As well as their own projects, they have helped dozens upon dozens of other causes in their home city, all while juggling their day jobs, with Tom at the frontline of the Covid pandemic as an EMT and Carla as a housing officer with Gentoo.
Speaking from their Tunstall home, Tom, who is also dad to Connan and Blaine, said: “After what’s been an awful year for everybody, this has really put a smile on our faces. We were absolutely gobsmacked when we found out about the MBEs. Everything we’ve done has never been for an award, we do it for our Nathan and to help others.
"We’ve met some amazing people over the years and been invited to places such as Downing Street and Buckingham Palace through our charity work. In some ways it’s not what we would have wanted because it’s took the death of our son, but at least some goodness has come from it.”
He added: “Nathan would be saying ‘ha’way, are you having a laugh’ if he found out his mam and dad were getting an MBE.”
Among the couple’s proudest achievements is the Veterans’ Walk, a unique pathway which honours both past and present Forces Personnel. So far, it’s been laid with more than 700 granite slabs, each honouring an individual’s service to their country. It’s proved so successful at recognising people’s contributions to society that it’s being used as a blueprint for other walkways across the country.
Another of the couple’s many achievements is Cuthy’s 200, an annual bike ride which raises thousands of pounds for charity and ends in a great day of celebration at Ashbrooke Sports Ground.
Rob Deverson established the Veterans’ Walk with Tom and Carla and, unbeknownst to the couple, put them forward for MBEs.
He said: “A work colleague of Tom's from North East Ambulance Service called Graeme Murray approached me during the summer of 2019 to help him write an awards submission to be sent to Whitehall. Having known Tom and Carla for over 10 years I was aware of all the fabulous work they had done since losing Nathan in raising more than £350,000 for various charities they support throughout the region.”
He added: "I was more than happy to help and so pleased their amazing efforts are finally getting the recognition they deserve. They should be justifiably proud of all they have done for the hundreds of people - and pets - they have helped over the past 12 and a half years.”
Others from Sunderland included in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List are Dr Robert Hywel MacFarlane from Houghton for Public Service; David Scrafton, for services to the Scouts and to the community in South Tyneside and Sunderland and Gerard Francis Hilton Donnelly for services to Social Mobility.