Two North East businessmen are putting on their walking boots and exploring the past to raise much needed funds for ex-servicemen.
Andrew Charlton from Cramlington based web design company BACK Consulting and Bedlington creative photographer PaulStephenson of The Beautiful Image are setting themselves the task of going back in time to walk the Western Front in Franceand Belgium.
The 120km walk from Ypres to Albert will trace the steps and visit many of the places occupied by the soldiers of theTyneside Scottish as well as allied war memorials and key historical sites along the Somme Battlefield.
Andrew’s great grandfather served in the Tyneside Scottish during the First World War and survived both the Battle of theSomme and the British offensive at Arras in 1917. His great uncle was one of the Tyneside Scottish’s Founders and laterbecame their Honorary Colonel. The Tyneside Scottish is unique in British military history being the only “Pals” Battalion still to feature in the British Army today in the form of 204 (Tyneside Scottish) Battery, 101st (Northumbrian) Regiment, RoyalArtillery.
Paul volunteered to help Andrew by making a documentary film about the walk which will be made available to schools in the North East and was surprised when he looked into his family tree to discover that his great grandfather’s brother also served in the Tyneside Scottish and sadly never returned. Paul is unaware of where his fore father is buried and out of respect; the pair will also visit the grave of the Unknown Soldier.
The pair are currently looking for sponsorship to raise funds for Veterans Retreat, a not for profit charitable organisation that provides permanent homes, rehabilitation, treatment and support to veterans.
“We’re doing this for three reasons,” said Andrew. “Firstly to raise much needed funds for Veteran’s Retreat, secondly to pass on our experiences to today’s school children so that they too can learn from the horror of the First World War and thirdly in memory of my great-granddad and the thousands of other ordinary people who lost their lives in the Great War.”
The team’s efforts have earned the support of historian, archaeologist and BBC Coast presenter Neil Oliver who himself has a keen interest in the Great War.
“I am delighted to support and encourage Andrew and Paul in their “Walking the Front” event in May. It’s fantastic to see an event that raises awareness of the horrors of the First World War, supports today’s veterans and is a personal pilgrimage for the lads doing the walk,” he said.
Andrew and Paul will start their walk on May 3rd and end on May 8th. Their website is www.walkingthefront.com
A dinner in aid of the charity will take place on 8th June at Newcastle’s Holiday Inn where a specially commissioned charity
single will be premiered.
Photo – Andrew (left) and Paul visit a War Memorial
Media Information: Contact Keith Newman of Highlights PR on 07814 397951
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