Those who devote their life to serving their country were honoured in the unveiling of the second phase of Sunderland’s Veterans Walk.
Another 40 granite slabs have been added to the pathway which is weaving its way around the Brothers in Arms Memorial Wall in Mowbray Park.
Established by Tom Cuthbertson - whose son Private Nathan Cuthbertson, 19, was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan whilst serving in the troubled Helmand Province in 2008 - the path is designed to honour the fallen, as well as those currently serving or those who’ve retired from the Forces.
In total, 143 people representing 35 different regiments from the Merchant Navy, Army, Navy and Air Force, have been honoured with a stone in the walkway since the first slab was laid in November last year, with hundreds more expected to be added in the coming years.
The second phase was launched with a ceremony attended by forces personnel and families who’ve bought stones, as well as standard bearers and piper Alex Brennan.
Tom, from Tunstall, who is also a key figure in the Brothers in Arms charity, said: “While the Memorial Wall honours those who have lost their lives in conflict or training since WWII, those people will, sadly, never see their memorial.
“But the idea behind the path has always been a way that living people can be recognised, as well as those who’ve lost their lives. I think a lot of people have misunderstood the walk and think it’s just for those who’ve died, but it’s for anyone who’s taken part in active service.”
He added: “In under a year we have 143 names honoured here, which is magnificent and we’re hoping to lay the same amount again before Christmas. People have really got behind the idea and many have been bought as gifts for loved ones.”
The A4-sized slabs, priced £249, weigh 17kilos each and are engraved with the person’s name, rank, regimental badge and years of service.
Any profit made from the sale of the stones is ploughed into the Brothers in Arms charity, which supports veterans and serving members of the Armed Forces and their families and remembers those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Rob Deverson, from Veterans Walk, said: “We have a real mixture of people represented here. Some people see it as an extension of a gravestone and one family have even buried ashes under the stone, which makes the pathway particularly poignant, that this is their final resting place.
“Others are living forces personnel who want to recognise their years of service. Tom’s vision was to create the Memorial Wall to honour those who have fallen, but then to go further and honour those who are living too with the Walk.”
He added: “The price is quite expensive but these are specially-engraved slabs that are meant to last, they’re so strong you could drive a truck over them and they wouldn’t crack. The money pays for the stone, engraving and the contractors to lay the pathway and any money left goes to Brothers in Arms.”
•For more information on the Veterans Walk visit http://veteranswalk.co.uk/