WAR veterans and council chiefs are spearheading a new drive to help honour the bravery of service personnel.
The Sunderland Veterans’ Forum has met for the first time, pledging to “develop and expand” public events in honour of the armed forces.
It is estimated that there are more than 26,000 former members of the military in Sunderland, the highest proportion of any UK city.
It is hoped the forum will help to coordinate and organise events celebrating, remembering and involving service personnel, as well as promoting consultation and feedback between the council, associations and partners on future plans.
The monthly meetings at the civic centre are being chaired by Alan Caddick, head of housing support and community living at Sunderland City Council, in his role as the “Officer Armed Forces Champion”.
“We are very much looking forward to working with a range of groups and individuals in a collaborative way,” he said.
Events that will be part of the forum’s agenda include Remembrance Sunday, the 2014 Commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War, Armed Forces Day and next year’s Sunderland International Airshow.
Vice-chairman Graham Hall said: “We want to get as many people involved in the forum as possible. This is a very exciting project.”
Mr Hall, who also heads the Sunderland Armed Forces Network, said the forum was part of the Armed Forces Covenant that the council has with the veterans’ community. The inaugural meeting, which took place on Tuesday, was held during the city’s Remembrance Week, with the Concert of Remembrance at Seaburn Leisure Centre and the Burdon Road War Memorial Service set to take place this weekend.
“We want to develop and expand current events as well as help set up educational projects for schools and community groups,” said Mr Hall.