HARTLEPOOL has paid an emotional tribute to Britain’s heroes.
Five hundred people watched at the Borough Hall on Saturday where servicemen and women, who have fought on behalf of their country, were remembered during a three-hour event.
It was a stirring mix of military bands, Scottish bagpipes and sombre reflection.
The organisers of the Salute Our Heroes evening said they were so impressed with the town’s response to the first ever showing of the event in Hartlepool that it could return.
Major Eric Ingram is the chairman of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity – formerly the Army Benevolent Fund – and said: “This has been a fabulous night and I do hope we will see a night like it again.”
ABF regional director Lt Col Brian De La Haye told the Hartlepool Mail afterwards: “I am sure we could be here again.”
He praised local officials from the Cleveland and Durham branch of the Oddfellows Society who helped put the evening together.
The audience enjoyed music from the combined bands of the Royal Signals (Northern) and the Band of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Solo performances came from Alison Cochlan and a scene from Phantom of the Opera starring John Rowland and Julie Pendleton.
One of the biggest cheers of the night went to the Scottish pipe and drums from 102 Battalion The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) accompanied by the Scott School of Highland Dancing.
There was a mix of music from Hartlepool’s own George Colley Singers and the evening’s entertainment reached a crescendo with the audience joining the cast for Union Jack-waving renditions of Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem.
But the evening also had more sombre moments.
There were tears as the audience rose while a roll of honour was read out, detailing 11 North-East heroes who had lost their lives including Rifleman Daniel Wild from Easington who was killed in Afghanistan in August 2009.
It was read out by the evening’s compere, Mail columnist Alan Wright, and the guest of honour, television agony aunt Denise Robertson. Before the show started, she told the Hartlepool Mail: “It seems fitting to be holding an event like this in the Borough Hall which is a historic place.”
The event also raised money for the ABF and, while the total gathered won’t be known until later this week, £500 was raised from a raffle and a cheque for £1,510 handed over by the Rifle Cadets from Hartlepool.