Thousands of caring Wearsiders looked to the skies to pay an emotional tribute to a brave teenage soldier who tragically died in the line of duty.
Nathan Cuthbertson’s life was cruelly cut short at the tender age of 19 when he was killed in action along with two other paratroopers after a lone insurgent detonated an explosive device in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on June 8, 2008.
The war hero’s memory is still burning bright eight years on - thanks to his loving parents who are determined to make the anniversary of his shocking loss into a celebration of his life rather than one of sorrow and sadness.
Devoted dad Tom and mum Carla, from Tunstall, Sunderland, have organised a bike ride and fun day in his honour every since since his death - with today’s spectacular set to the biggest and best yet.
A spectacular air display from an eight-strong Red Devils parachute team crowned a fantastic day of fundraising in which a convoy of charity champions completed a 60-mile trek from Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire to Ashbrook Sports Club in Sunderland.
A tremendous total of 220 riders went the extra mile in memory of Nathan during Cuthy’s Big Bike Ride - raising precious pounds for the Brothers in Arms fund, which was set up by Wearside families who have lost loved ones in recent conflicts and service.
It is a fitting tribute to Nathan’s lifeTom Cuthbertson
A superb £16,000 was raised for the cause last year - but hopes are high that an even bigger haul wil be winging its way to the charity this year.
A bumper crowd of thousands crammed into the sports club to enjoy a family fun day in glorious sunshine, cheering on the big-hearted band of bikers before turning their attention to the clouds to watch the dazzling Red Devils complete their descent from 10,000 feet at speeds of up to 120mph.
The charity jackpot was bolstered by window cleaner Tom Campion, who brought in a brilliant £1,200 from generous customers in Fulwell, Seaburn and Hastings Hill.
Proud mum Carla said; “We raised £16,000 last year and we think the total might be even higher this year. We want to thank everyone who took part in the bike ride and helped out with the event and came along to the fun day.
Dad Tom added: “We always hold the event on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of Nathan’s death.
“It is getting bigger every year.
“It is a fitting tribute to Nathan’s life.”