A LASTING tribute to mark the ultimate sacrifice made by Wearside’s fallen heroes has been officially unveiled.
Hundreds gathered to watch the poignant dedication ceremony as Sunderland’s Memorial Wall played a unique part in a special Armistice Day service.
The wall was built with funds raised through the determination and hard work of Brothers in Arms, a group of Wearside families who have lost loved ones in combat and training.
The tribute, next to the Burdon Road cenotaph, bears the names of 20 servicemen who have lost their lives since the end of the Second World War.
Tom Cuthbertson, one of Brothers in Arms founders, lost his son Nathan, 19, in June 2008 while he was fighting in Afghanistan.
At yesterday’s ceremony, he said: “This wall is in honour of all the sons and daughters who gave their lives in conflict and training.
“The support today has been unbelievable and it makes our grieving a lot more bearable. To know the kind support from everyone is amazing.”
After the ceremony, he told the Echo: “Today has been so moving and I think our Nathan will be looking down and thinking: look at what they have done.”
Two years ago the families united to form Brothers in Arms and pledged to raise enough money to built a tribute to their relatives as well as other Wearsiders who sacrificed their lives for their county.
Since then, kind-hearted Wearsiders and businesses across the region have dug deep to raise more than £150,000 to design and complete the wall.
Dedicating the wall, the Reverend Stephen Hazlett, of Sunderland Minster, said: “We dedicate this sacred memorial to their selfless bravery and our humble gratitude.”
Mayor Norma Wright added: “We honour all those who, when called, left all that was dear to them and faced terrible hardship and danger paying the ultimate price so that others may live in freedom.”
The service was led by the Salvation Army Band with readings from Len Gibson, formerly of 125 Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery and a Death Railway prisoner of war, and Ted Hold ISM (Imperial Service Medal), president of the Sunderland branch of the Parachute Regimental Association.
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “The new memorial wall has been a real community effort and is a fitting tribute to service personnel who have lost their lives since 1945.”
Brothers in Arms said it would like to thank all those who have helped the memorial wall become a reality.
l For details of Remembrance services across Wearside and Durham, turn to Page 13.