Charity: The National Veteran’s Walk
The National Veterans’ Walk are running a prize draw to give one lucky entrant the chance to win an Edwardian home in Sunderland
The National Veterans’ Walk project in Sunderland aims to create permanent tributes to all who have served (or are still serving) in our armed forces.
The Veterans’ Walk is the brainchild of Tom Cuthbertson and his wife Carla, both of whom worked tirelessly after the loss of their son in Afghanistan in 2008 to raise enough money to build a memorial wall, to honour all from the city of Sunderland who have fallen in conflicts across the world since 1945. Tom was always aware that this memorial wall was only to commemorate those who had lost their lives in service of their country, and he wanted to go further in recognising all personnel – including those who are still serving or living veterans. As a result, the local council agreed to support planning and development of a walkway that is now a permanent reminder for anyone who wishes to create a legacy for those still surviving or having passed away. In November 2016, the first stones were laid in Mowbray Park to honour those personnel.
Today, the growing number of stones laid on the Veterans’ Walk pay tribute to the valued service of personnel who have represented, or still represent their country on land, in the air, or at sea, and future projects hope to include emergency and other public service personnel too. The granite plaques carry the individual’s name, rank and badge and are laid on the pathway as a permanent reminder of anyone who has served his or her country with pride. The plaques are 350mm by 250mm and all surplus funds raised through the project are used to continue funding various armed forces charities, in our region and beyond.
The project is supported by the council, but it’s self-funded as the individuals pay for the stones when they are added to the walkway. ‘Every single stone has an individual story – sometimes it’s tragedy, sometimes it’s heroism and sometimes it’s just for those who want to have their legacy remembered for future generations,’ says Rob Deverson, Operations Director, and friend of the Cuthbertson family. ‘The stones that go down are granite so they’re going to be here for a long time after we’re not. It’s a great place for people to go and reflect. The money raised from those stones is used to support armed forces charities in our area, and we get great feedback from our local charities who are in need of the support – it’s been really successful.’
To continue their support, a competition has been launched to raise more money for such charities – as well as supporting individual veterans and armed service personnel too. The winner of the competition will receive the keys to a city centre Edwardian terrace in Sunderland worth more than £300,000 – which can be won for a single £5 entry purchase. Originally built in 1803, the property has enormous potential for residential, commercial or redevelopment purposes and has all relevant planning permissions.
Money raised from this competition will help Sunderland-based charity, Veterans in Crisis, as well as the national charity Minds at War, among others. ‘Those charities are both very dear to our hearts,’ Rob tells us. The amazing teams running these charities will then select individuals who are suffering from PTSD or other related mental health issues to receive the help and support they need.
‘There’s a lot of people who come out of the forces with mental health issues and I know a number of individuals who’ve taken great comfort in having a stone laid because it allows them to feel valued after leaving the forces,’ Rob explains. Theresa Smith, who is offering the home as the prize, knows this all too well. She is a psychology-based counsellor and therapist who is looking to give back to the community. To do that, she’ll be the person working with the charities to offer help to those in need of it most.
The competition ends on Monday, 21st June, but The National Veterans’ Walk project never has an end date – the walkway simply continues to grow, so they always need our support. To find out more about the project, or to order a stone, visit nationalveteranswalk.co.uk. To enter the competition search ‘Win A Period Property Competition’ on Facebook.