LOVED ones paid an emotional tribute to fallen heroes as thousands of crosses and poppies formed the first Field of Remembrance in the North.
The tribute to brave British servicemen and women went on display in Saltwell Park, Gateshead, where around 10,000 crosses have been placed.Related content
Family of Cpl Steven Dunn and Rifleman Mark Turner, who were both killed in Afghanistan in 2010, have worked with the Royal British Legion to organise the memorial.
And they unveiled the tribute which will be open to the public in the build up to Remembrance Sunday.
Leah Harris, from the Royal British Legion, said: “Today we’re planting the first field of remembrance in the north of England and we have six of them around the country. The two families that sadly lost their sons in Afghanistan have been really instrumental in helping us to create this first field up here.
“There’s also been huge support from the community in the North East. It’s important to give people the opportunity to come here and pay their respects and write tributes and remember people that they have lost.”
Cpl Dunn and Rifleman Turner were both killed in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Rifleman Turner’s mother, Anne, has campaigned to commemorate fallen North soldiers ever since the 21-year-old, from Sheriff Hill in Gateshead, was killed by an IED as he searched for roadside bombs in Helmand, Afghanistan.
Last night Anne said: “I feel very honoured to be dedicating a cross in Mark’s memory and also to be remembering the sacrifices made by all those men and women whose lives were cut short in the line of duty.
“It will be a very emotional day but a very proud one for us. We will never forget the sacrifice Mark and so many brave heroes like him have made.”
At Vicky Dunn's side when she dedicated a cross for her son was Cpl Dunn’s sister, eight-year-old Emily Dunn.
Emily was just six years old when her 27-year-old brother, also from Gateshead, was killed in Afghanistan when the armoured vehicle he was travelling in was hit by an improvised explosive device.
So far the Legion has staged Fields at sites in Westminster, Royal Wootton Bassett and Edinburgh. This is the first time it has been held in the North.
Andrew Drake, area manager for the Royal British Legion in the North, said: “Each cross planted at Saltwell Park will represent the public’s heartfelt thanks for the sacrifices made by our brave servicemen and women.”
The Field of Remembrance will be officially opened today at 10.30am with a dedication service conducted by military chaplain, the Rev Charles Hope, of 102 Battalion, The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Volunteers.
A two-minute silence will be observed at 11am.