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Celebrating Armed Forces Day

South Tyneside celebrated its armed forces community at a special event today Sunday (24 June).

The annual Armed Forces Day event, organised by the Bad-Landers Motorcycle Club in partnership with South Tyneside Council, featured a colourful military parade along South Shields seafront, followed by an action packed family fun day in Bents Park.

A special cavalcade involving around 300 motorcycles started the event as they rode along the seafront from Sunderland to Bents Park. This was followed by a military parade with pipes and drums from Gypsies Green to Bents Park, where an inspection of the troops took place and an open air church service.

Families also enjoyed a family fun day with live bands, stalls, a fun fair and a motorbike custom show among the activities and entertainment on offer. Other attractions on the day included an exhibition of motorbikes, scooters, classic cars and military vehicles.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Ken Stephenson, inspected the troops before officially opening the event. He said: "It was a huge honour to be representing the Borough at this year's Armed Forces Day parade and fun day.

"The event is a fitting tribute to our servicemen and women, and the wider Armed Forces community, and a chance for us all to show our support for troops and recognise the enormous commitment and sacrifices they make.

"It is also one of the most popular and poignant events in our annual calendar and once again were keen to encourage the whole community to join us on the day in celebrating our armed forced community."

The event was also supported by the 205 Battery RA (V), Royal British Legion, Durham Light Infantry Association and SSAFA - the armed forces charity.

Proceeds from the Bad-Landers event will go to Support Our Soldiers.

Organiser Joe Fairrie, of the Bad-Landers Motorcycle Club, said: "Armed Forces Day is always a great family day out.

"Every year, we look forward to joining the people of South Tyneside in supporting our troops past and present and acknowledging the risks the armed forces take to keep us safe. Money raised throughout the day also goes a long way to supporting military charities."

Councillor Ed Malcolm, Chairman of the South Tyneside Armed Forces Forum, added: "It is important we help to raise awareness of the contribution made by the armed forces community, from currently serving troops to service families, veterans and cadets. Their work is vital to the defence of our country.

"Armed Forces Day gives us an opportunity to come together to show great appreciation for our military while remembering all those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The day is also a great day for families to enjoy, with proceeds going to a really worthwhile cause."

South Tyneside's Armed Forces Day takes place on Sunday 24 June to avoid clashing with other events in the North East on national Armed Forces Day, which is Saturday 30 June.

For further information about South Tyneside Council's support for Armed Forces visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/armedforces

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