Walkway plan to honour Sunderland’s forces heroes

The Brothers in Arms group, left to right; Tom and Carla Cuthbertson, Linda Fisken, Brenda Gooch and Janice Murray.
The Brothers in Arms group, left to right; Tom and Carla Cuthbertson, Linda Fisken, Brenda Gooch and Janice Murray.
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PLANS have been put forward to create a walkway of honour in tribute to Wearside’s heroes.

Families of fallen servicemen saw their hard work come to fruition when a memorial wall to those killed in recent conflicts was unveiled next to the city’s cenotaph in 2011.

Now Tom Cuthbertson of Brothers in Arms, the group which campaigned and raised funds for the wall, has set out plans for a buy-a-brick scheme to create a granite walkway bearing the names of servicemen and women from Wearside next to the wall.

Tom, whose son Nathan was killed in Afghanistan in 2008, said: “We have memorials to remember those who have died while serving their country, but there is nothing to honour those who have served and survived.

“This would be the first of its kind in the country – it would be something unique for the city.”

Tom said the project would allow serving and former armed forces personnel and their families to buy a brick – which he hopes would cost about £25 – bearing their name, rank and cap badge to be embedded in the walkway.

“It would be for everyone who’s served in any of the forces, not just in conflict, living or dead,” he said.

The former paratrooper, who now works as a paramedic, said he had been thinking of ways to improve the area around the memorial wall and cenotaph, and got the idea for the granite floor from Sunderland AFC’s buy-a-brick scheme at the Stadium of Light.

“If you can dedicate a brick at your football club, then why not for something like this? Film stars can have their name in the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, why not those who have served their country?” said Tom.

“The idea is in its early stages, but I’ve already had a lot of interest and people have already been saying they would buy a brick.

“There are 25,000 former services personnel in Sunderland, which is a massive amount of people who could potentially get involved, and families could also dedicate bricks to relatives who have served.”

Tom has put forward proposals to Sunderland City Council and had meetings with senior leaders at the authority.

He said consideration was being given about how best to incorporate the paving around the cenotaph.

“It’s a Grade II-listed building, so there is a lot of red tape to consider, as we had with the wall,” he said.

The dad, from Tunstall, who lives with wife Carla, has also been in contact with the company who created the Brothers in Arms memorial wall to discuss the new project ideas.

The next stage is for an action group to be set up to take the plans forward.

“I’m very keen to get the public’s reaction to the plans,” said Tom.