Paying respects for Armed Forces Day

A CAVALCADE of Harley Davidsons roared into South Tyneside at the weekend to pay respect to the thousands of servicemen and women fighting on the front line in battle zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Organised by the Badlanders Motorcycle Club, based around North East England, more than 100 bikers made their way to South Shields coastline to celebrate the first Armed Forces Day.

The bikes parked up on the field of Bents Park and visited the various stalls set up by the Army, including paint-balling activities.

Event organiser Joe Fairrie, from the Badlanders Motorcycle Club, said: "We're doing this to show what massive support and respect bikers have for the armed forces.

"They are the ones keeping our country safe and I suppose this is our own way of saying thanks.

"We've got groups here from all over the north of England who were keen to be involved, it's a really good turn-out."

One group who had a particular interest in the day's events were the All Arms Veterans' Motorcycle Club.

The club has 60 members around the country, all of which are former members of the Army, Navy and RAF.

The Government changed the name from Veterans' Day to Armed Forces Day to raise awareness and appreciation for those on active duty.

South Tyneside played host to a variety of events to celebrate the day.

Mayor of South Tyneside John Anglin was at South Shields Territorial Army Centre in Horsley Hill, South Shields, to show his support.

The free open day, organised between 205 Battery and the nearby squadron 324 Air Cadets, featured various Army-style activities throughout the day, including field craft demonstrations and drills.

And people got the chance to see an Army rocket launcher up close, while the kids found out how to apply camouflage face paint from professional soldiers.

Coun Anglin said: "I'm here to demonstrate the support that the council wants to give to all branches of our armed forces.

"We'd like to let them know how much we appreciate the training and hard work they put in to their important jobs, and that we're right behind them.

"I think in the past there hasn't been enough support for them, but that seems to be changing, and days like this are a great way of showing how much we care for them."

Battery Commander Peter Winton said: "Today is an excellent opportunity for the community to recognise those serving both in the regular and territorial army and in other forces."