Soldiering on to pay tribute to armed forces

TORRENTIAL rain and thunderstorms failed to stop people from turning out to show their support to the armed forces.

Visitors descended in their hundreds along the seafront to see the troops march along Sea Road, South Shields, led by a cavalcade of bikers.

The parade kick-started a day of celebration at the Bents Park, South Shields, organised by the Bad-Landers Motorcycle Club, to mark Armed Forces Day.

The event featured a range of activities including a military firing range, a custom bike and scooter show and children’s funfair.

And even though a series of thunder showers sent people running for cover, it failed to dampen the spirits.

Joe Fairrie, chairman of the Bad-Landers Motor Cycle Club, said: “It’s fantastic to see the local people turn out to support us on a such a dull, wet day. Because without their support, this event wouldn’t be able to go ahead. It shows just how passionate they are. It’s difficult to put into words how proud I feel.”

The event, which was also raising money for Support Our Soldiers and other armed forces charities, was attended by the Mayor of South Tyneside Coun Eileen Leask, the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear Nigel Sherlock and other civic dignitaries.

Members of the 205 Battery Royal Artillery, the Royal British Legion and the Durham Light Infantry, Durham Army Cadets and Air Training Corp were also there.

The event was supported by South Tyneside Council.

Colonel Tony Laker of the Army Cadets and Vice-Chairman of the Bad-Landers Motorcycle Club said: “Even though the weather’s been awful, the event has been really successful.

“I feel very proud to be part of this event and it was great to see people out on the street cheering the troops on as they passed.”

Coun Leask said: “It was a great privilege to inspect the troops and I was very proud to represent the borough as we honoured our armed forces community.

“It is important to recognise the contribution they make, and I hope this can be an important part of our annual events calendar for years to come.”

Armed Forces Day will take place nationally on June 30. It was decided to celebrate the day locally on Sunday to avoid clashing with other events.

Twitter: @shieldsgazlisa