Thousands of people are expected to turn out for Armed Forces Day celebrations in South Tyneside this weekend.
The annual event, organised by the Bad-Landers Motorcycle Club in partnership with South Tyneside Council, will feature a colourful military parade along South Shields seafront, followed by an action packed family fun day in Bents Park.
A special cavalcade involving more than 300 motorcycles will start the event as they ride along the seafront from Sunderland to Bents Park at around 10am. They will be followed by a military parade with pipes and drums from Gypsies Green to Bents Park, where an inspection of the troops will take place and an open air church service.
A family fun day will then take place with live bands, stalls, face painting, street entertainment, a fun fair and motorbike and scooter custom shows among the activities and entertainment on offer. Other attractions on the day include an exhibition of motorbikes, scooters, classic cars and military vehicles.
South Tyneside’s Armed Forces Day takes place on Sunday June 18 to avoid clashing with other events in the North East on national Armed Forces Day, which is Saturday June 24.
Organiser Joe Fairrie, of the Bad-Landers Motorcycle Club, said: “With everything from a formal inspection of the troops to street entertainers, displays and live music, Armed Forces Day is a great family day out.
“We always get a huge amount of support from the biking community from around the North East and the money raised on the day goes a long way to supporting military charities. But it’s about much more than that. It’s about remembering and acknowledging that our armed forces risk their lives to keep us safe. Let us all respect the troops and what they do for us.”
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Olive Punchion, will inspect the troops at the event.
She said: “Armed Forces Day is a real celebration of our servicemen and women, and the wider Armed Forces community, and a chance for us all to show our support and respect for troops.
"It has grown to become one of the most popular and poignant events in our annual calendar and once again we are keen to encourage the whole community to get involved. With plenty of family entertainment and the Bad-Landers’ exhibition of bikes, scooters, classic cars and military vehicles, as always, it will be a memorable day.”
The event is open to the public until 5pm and is also supported by the 205 Battery RA (V), Royal British Legion and Durham Light Infantry Association. A donation of £3 per person is requested from those attending, who will receive a commemorative wristband. Entry is free for children under 14 accompanied by an adult.
Proceeds from the Bad-Landers event will go to Support Our Soldiers and other armed forces charities.
Councillor Ed Malcolm, Chairman of the South Tyneside Armed Forces Forum, said: “Armed Forces Day helps to raise awareness of the contribution made by the armed forces community, from currently serving troops to service families, veterans and cadets.
“It is a fitting tribute and an ideal opportunity for us all to come together to celebrate our services community and to recognise the commitment and sacrifices that they make. It would be wonderful to see as many people as possible turn out on the day. I’m sure all those who join us on Sunday will have a great time while supporting a really worthwhile cause.”
A temporary road closure will be in place along Sea Road from around 9.30am to allow armed forces organisations to parade along to Bents Park. Signs will be in place along the route.
For further information about South Tyneside Council’s support for Armed Forces visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/armedforces