Tribute to victims

Standard bearers picturedd at the dedication service.
Standard bearers picturedd at the dedication service.

SERVICEMEN and women who lost their lives in conflicts over the past 60 years are being commemorated with the unveiling of a new plaque.

Members of Blackhall Royal Air Force Association (RAFA) have donated a memorial plaque in tribute to those who have sacrificed their lives in the various conflicts since the Second World War.

The plaque, which acknowledges Blackhall residents who were killed in conflicts including Afghanistan, Iraq and the Falklands War, has been added to the existing 16ft-high sandstone cross at the village’s Welfare Park.

The 59-year-old cross itself is a tribute to people killed in the two world wars and the Korean War.

The new marker was unveiled during a poignant service which included a wreath-laying ceremony.

Airmen from RAF Leeming also attended the event and squadron leader Simon Tatters led his men on a march from the memorial to the park entrance.

Standard-bearers and members of Durham Light Infantry’s gunners section also attended the service, which was conducted by Father Malcolm Cairns, of the village’s St Joseph’s RC Church and watched by more than 100 people.

Bob Steel, secretary/treasurer of Blackhall RAFA, said: “We wanted to recognise the forgotten heroes who have sacrificed their lives in the many conflicts since the Second World War.

“More than 3,000 British soldiers have died in various conflicts since then and we wanted somewhere for people to come and remember them.”

Mr Steel, who signed up to national service with the RAF in the 1950s, thanked RAFA organising committee member Bill McDonald for his help in bringing the plaque to fruition, as well people who donated towards the cost of the plaque.

The £650 plaque was made by a Seaham-based stonemason after the RAFA raised funds in the community.

Monk Hesleden Parish Council clerk Lynda Wardle said: “We were approached by the local RAFA and I think it was a marvellous idea to have the plaque added as a finishing touch to the existing sandstone cross.

“It is a fitting tribute to those who have lost their lives since the Second World War.”