Poppy drop planned during 24 mile VJ Day walk which pays tribute to Sunderland war hero Len Gibson BEM

A poppy drop is planned as part of VJ Day events in the North East honouring Len Gibson BEM and other Far East prisoners of war.

A 24 mile walk organised by cancer charity Daft as a Brush will start off in Sunderland, going through South Shields, Gateshead and finishing in Newcastle, honouring Len, from Sunderland, who passed away last year aged 101, as well as all others who suffered terrible treatment after being captured by Japanese forces during the Second World War.

The walk, which is open to the public, will begin at Sunderland cenotaph, Mowbray Park, at 7am with a remembrance service and military piper, before stopping at South Shields Town Hall at 11am for a one minute silence, short service and a fly past from three vintage aircraft, with a poppy drop to pay tribute.

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The six premises in and around Sunderland recently awarded four and five star fo...
Sunderland war hero, Len Gibson BEM

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Organiser and charity chief, Brian Burnie is reaching out to the public to join in. He said: “I’ve known Len Gibson for over 25 years, his passing last year was 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 Sunday, August 14, 2021.

"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 Newcastle will be very moving.”

“Len was the greatest gentleman I have ever met and after he came home, he spent his life giving back to others. This walk celebrates him and others like him by bringing the North East together.”

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Last year's VJ Day walk going over Wearmouth Bridge, in Sunderland

As a Far East 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.

In 2019 he was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of his community and voluntary Service and last year, aged 101, Len sadly passed away.

Daft as a Brush cancer charity collects and transports those suffering from cancer to hospital appointments, helping thousands across the North East.

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A fly past and poppy drop are planned to pay tribute.