Royal Artillery to fire gun salute at Sunderland freedom parade

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GUNFIRE will be heard across the city centre on Saturday as 4th Regiment Royal Artillery marks its Freedom of Sunderland.

The regiment was first given its Freedom in 1974 and is marking this 40th anniversary with a parade.

As part of the ceremonies, eight of its 105mm ‘light guns’ are firing a round each from the terrace in Mowbray Park.

Led by the Band of the King’s Division, the regiment is stepping off from the Civic Centre at 1pm.

It marches to the Burdon Road War Memorial where it will be inspected by the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Stuart Porthouse and the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Sir Nigel Sherlock.

The city centre parade is due to begin at about 1.30pm and the guns fired at its conclusion at 2.05pm.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “I hope people will cheer them on and applaud the regiment as it marks its 40th with this parade and firing of guns.”

Altogether, more than 200 ‘North East Gunners’ – with a military band – are marching in Burdon Road, then Fawcett Street, High Street West, Union Street into Market Square, Holmeside and turning right back into Burdon Road for a salute alongside the Burdon Road War Memorial.

Lieutenant Colonel John Catto, the regiment’s Commanding Officer, said: “There is a significant representation of ex-members of the North East Gunners in the Sunderland area.

“I hope both they and the local community will come to see their regiment marking this wholly important anniversary.”

The Gunners have had three tours of duty in Afghanistan and around two-thirds of its strength is from the North East.

The regiment last fired its guns in Sunderland from Building Hill, Mowbray Park, next to the statue of General Henry Havelock, in July 2008 after returning from its first tour in Afghanistan.

Burdon and Park Road are closed from 11am to 8pm. A rolling road closure is in place for the city centre parade when it starts.