Memorial walk for Sunderland war hero Len Gibson begins in Newcastle

A memorial walk from Newcastle to Sunderland in memory of war hero Len Gibson who died aged 101 has begun at the cenotaph in Old Eldon Square.

By Georgina Cutler
Sunday, 15th August 2021, 11:28 am
Updated Sunday, 15th August 2021, 11:29 am
The memorial walk is being held in honour of Sunderland war veteran Len Gibson.
The memorial walk is being held in honour of Sunderland war veteran Len Gibson.

The 25-mile memorial walk organised by cancer charity Daft as a Brush kicked off at the cenotaph in Old Eldon Square today, August 15 before a bagpiper led the crowd down to the Millennium Bridge and over the River Tyne.

The route will take walkers through Jarrow, South Shields, and Whitburn before finishing at the Sunderland Cenotaph at Mowbray Park, at around 5pm.

The 25 mile walk kicked off in Newcastle this morning.

A number of people will be speaking at the remembrance service in Sunderland including the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Henry Trueman and Daft as a Brush founder, Brian Burnie before Rev. Juliet Stephenson conducts the memorial service.

A bugler will also sound ‘The Last Post’ at the ceremony.

Brian said: “I’ve known Len Gibson for over 25 years, his recent passing is terribly sad. I’ve said it before, he is the greatest gentleman I’ve ever met.

"This Memorial Walk is to remember Len and all the Far East Prisoners of War. It will be an honour to lay a wreath at both Newcastle and Sunderland Cenotaphs on VJ Day, 15th August 2021."

The Mayor of Newcastle Councillor Habib Rahman and Daft as a Brush founder Brian Burnie kicked off the walk at Eldon Square in Newcastle.

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He added: "I hope communities can come together on Sunday and walk just a few paces, a mile or two or perhaps a little further for support and to remember the 'forgotten army'. The reception in Sunderland will be very moving."

During his time as a prisoner of war, Len was forced to work on the Mergui Road building the 'Death Railway' in Burma after he was captured following the fall of Singapore in 1942.

He remained as a prisoner until liberation in 1945 and during his time in captivity, he would entertain his fellow prisoners with music.

The walk will finish in Sunderland where a remembrance service will be held.

Earlier this month Len was honoured with a book launch of his memoirs, telling the story of his life from the Burma Death Railway to becoming a teacher.

The launch had been planned before Les passed away but will now serve as testament to his memory with all proceeds going to Daft As A Brush Cancer Patient Care.

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