Sunderland music festival backs forces veterans' support group

Ger Fowler, founder of Veterans in Crisis Sunderland, left, with Sunniside Live organiser Sean Maddison.
Ger Fowler, founder of Veterans in Crisis Sunderland, left, with Sunniside Live organiser Sean Maddison.

A new support group for armed forces veterans has received a vital boost from a summer music festival.

Veterans in Crisis Sunderland (VICS) will be the official charity adopted by this year’s Sunniside Live.

As well as allowing VICS supporters to collect cash with charity buckets, the city centre festival will continually plug the group throughout the weekend and hopefully get musicians to autograph memorabilia as auction prizes.

All funds will help Sunderland veterans tackle a range of problems from mental health issues to homelessness.

VICS founder Ger Fowler, 48, an ex-serviceman himself, said: “It is a pleasure to be supported by such an event like this and just typical of the support we have had from Sunderland as a whole.”

VICS was formed in its current guise as a community interest company earlier this year.

Mr Fowler, who served as a private with the Light Infantry for five years after leaving St Thomas Aquinas School in 1986, has since helped more than 50 veterans.

Sunniside Live takes place in Sunniside Gardens on July 6-7.

Famous names such as the Lightning Seeds, Soul II Soul, Reverend and the Makers, Cast , The Bluetones and Lovely Laura will perform alongside a host of local acts.

The festival is also providing free tickets for Mr Fowler to distribute to veterans.

Sunniside Live organiser Sean Maddison, who owns city venues Bar Justice and Gin and Bear It, said: “It takes something special to do what people who join the armed forces do.

“I certainly could not do it and we decided we wanted to support them as thanks.”

Veterans can contact Mr Fowler on (07850) 263421.

Further details about tickets for Sunniside Live are available here.