Real Fathers for Justice protest on Sunderland's Queen Alexandra Bridge is over

Two dads have called off their protest on Sunderland's Queen Alexandra Bridge.

Monday, 20th June 2016, 1:55 pm
Updated Monday, 20th June 2016, 2:58 pm
One of the two men climbs down from the bridge early this afternoon

The pair, members of campaign group Real Fathers for Justice (RFFJ), scaled the bridge early yesterday - Father's Day - and unfurled a 25ft banner saying 'Happy Fatherless Day'.

The banner had been attached to the railing on the north side of the bridge, and the men - identified only as Danny, 42, from Wearside, and John, 34, from Gateshead - had pitched tents on the top of the bridge.

The protestors on Queen Alexandra Bridge

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They came down around 12.30pm today.

John said he had been overwhelmed by the response from the public.

It was amazing," he said.

"I wanted to do it for my kids. I have got four kids - the youngest I haven't seen since she was four days old.

The protestors on Queen Alexandra Bridge

"It was time I actually did something.

"We have had people driving past, waving and beeping their horns, coming down to see us.

"It has been brilliant and it has not just been males, we have had female supporters too, and old people

RFFJ spokesman and co-founder Leigh Davison said the pair had done well:

"It was their first protest and they have done 32 hours," he said. "They went up at 4am yesterday.

"It was quite an endurance test for them. They are novice climbers and I think they have done marvellously.

"They thought they had done enough - the publicity they have garnered and the support they have had from the public has been first class.

"They are both very happy with that."

Danny said: "I'm grateful for all the support from drivers beeping horns and passers by shouting and waving."We're overwhelmed by the coverage in the press then the reaction on social media, clearly this protest has struck a chord with many."I hope it inspires others to get involved in the campaign in the same way Simon Anderton's protest on the Tyne bridge inspired me last year"If I wasn't on the bridge with John, I would've spent Father's Day alone at home with my negative thoughts."I think by doing this protest, it has been something positive and constructive that helps me keep going"Speaking to John, he feels the same that this is the happiest we have both felt in 4 years."People came to the bridge last night especially to see us to give us their support after reading the story in the newspaper, that meant a lot."My life had turned upside down following my separation, I now have hope that I can get through this situation."

RFFJ says the action is to highlight failings in the family courts.

"Our members have so much anguish because they can't see their children," said Mr Davison.

"Father's Day and Christmas are when you see particular spikes in suicide rates among men.

"It's really difficult if you can't see your kids, especially if you know they could be just round the corner.