The park will again form the backdrop to a sea of thousands of wooden crosses inscribed with a personal message from members of the public to commemorate a life lost in service to the country. This will be the fifth year that Gateshead’s Saltwell Park has had the honour of hosting the Field of Remembrance, the only event of its kind in the whole of Northern England.
Crosses will be planted on Friday 28 October at 10.00am by volunteers including members of the Armed Forces, The Royal British Legion, local cadet forces and members of the public to commemorate those who fell in conflicts ranging from the great World Wars to recent conflicts in the Middle East.
Among the volunteers will be Mike Wilson, whose identical twin brother, LCpl David Wilson, died while serving with 9 Regiment Army Air Corp in Iraq during 2008.
A ceremony to formally dedicate the Field of Remembrance will take place on Saturday 29 October at 10.45am with a dedication service conducted by a military chaplain. A two-minute silence will then be observed at 11.00am after which military chiefs from across the region representing the Royal Air Force, Army and the Royal Navy will dedicate a remembrance cross in the field.
This year’s remembrance is made even more poignant as it marks the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.
The Field of Remembrance was brought to the region in 2012 as part of a campaign by Anne Turner to pay tribute to fallen service men and women from the north. Anne’s son Rifleman Mark Turner from 3rd Battalion The Rifles was 21 years-old when he was killed on patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan in 2010.
Marcus Hawthorn, Area Manager for The Royal British Legion in the North East, said: “We are delighted to work with Gateshead Council to host the Field of Remembrance for a fifth year. The service is an opportunity for the public to pay their respects and also reflect on the sacrifices made by so many men and women who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today. In this poignant year which marks the centenary of the First World War, we hope more people across the North East will visit our Field and pay tribute to those we must never forget.”
Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Alison Thompson, says: “Our region’s strong relationship with the armed services stretches back generations. It is a huge privilege for Gateshead to host the Field of Remembrance and honour the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
“This is always a hugely emotional occasion. Being a part of this tribute means so much to so many people, particularly those who have lost loved ones.”
“I’d like to extend our welcome to everyone to join us and honour some of the bravest men and women who have fought and died for their country.”
Members of the public who want to dedicate their own remembrance cross for the North Field of Remembrance can pick up a wooden cross from Main Reception at Gateshead Civic Centre from 30 October in exchange for a donation. Alternatively, go online to www.britishlegion.org.uk/dedicate to have a personal message written onto a cross and sent for planting at Saltwell Park.
There will be other Fields of Remembrance planted at Royal Wootton Bassett, Westminster, Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, each one a testament to the respect and gratitude felt by so many.
The Field of Remembrance will be open to the public from dawn until dusk each day from Saturday October 29 until Monday 14 November.