Sunderland is honouring its military heroes as Armed Forces Day approaches.
A ceremonial raising of the Union flag took place at the Civic Centre this morning attended by city dignitaries and representatives from serving and former members of the armed forces.
It began a full commemorative programme which will culminate in celebrations at the weekend, with Armed Forces Day falling on Saturday June 24.
The Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Doris McKnight was joined by the Deputy Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Frank Major, and the High Sheriff, Lieutenant General Brimms, at the flag raising ceremony on the public concourse outside the council chamber at 10am this morning.
Military personnel and representatives from regiments and associations across the region attended, including the Reserves - members of the community who volunteer their spare time in civilian life and careers to train and serve in the military reservists alongside their comrades in the armed forces.
Celebrations taking place across the community this weekend include a programme of celebratory events and activities organised by Veterans' Groups at Recreation Park in Seaburn.
Coun McKnight said: "I am honoured to raise the flag on behalf of the people of Sunderland, and to welcome our distinguished guests to the city to join our commemoration of Armed Forces Day.
"Today also gives us the chance to pay tribute to the many veterans in our city, and to the Reserves who play such a vital role in our armed forces."
Deputy council leader Harry Trueman, who is the city's armed forces champion, added: "Our city has a close, strong relationship with our armed forces, and this annual flag raising is an opportunity for us all to show our thanks and continued support.
"Sunderland is very proud if its military tradition, and the links we have with regiments from across all the Senior Services.
"Armed Forces Day provides us with the opportunity to show how much we value and appreciate the contribution and sacrifices they and their families make on our behalf."
The Armed Forces Day flag has also been raised at County Hall, in Durham, in preparation for Armed Forces Day.
Representatives from the armed forces, along with Durham County Council employees who are members of the reserve forces, also attended a reception with Cllr Bill Kellett, Chairman of Durham County Council.
A range of activities will be taking place around the county over the coming days in the build up to Armed Forces Day.
CouncillorLucy Hovvels MBE, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for adult and health services and the authority’s veterans champion, said: “I am delighted that we are showing support for our armed forces community, serving personnel and their families, as well as recognising the essential role played by members of the reserve forces.
“Balancing full-time employment with a military career is no mean feat. We salute our employees who do this as they bring valuable skills, such as leadership and team building back into the workplace.”
Durham County Council is a signatory of the Armed Forces Community Covenant and has made a commitment to ensuring that members of the armed forces community – those who serve or have served in the armed forces and their families – are treated fairly and are not disadvantaged as a result of their service.
In November 2015, the council received the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Award in acknowledgement of its work to support the armed forces community. The council also has a Reserves Forces Policy and offers up to 10 days of paid leave to enable employees who are reservists to attend their annual training camp.