Sunderland AFC welcomed a group of intrepid current and former servicemen on Sunday, who are in the latter stages of a mammoth 470-mile walk to raise funds for the Royal British Legion and the Household Cavalry Foundation.
CastleTrek is a small team of enthusiastic guys, who are walking from Windsor Castle to Edinburgh Castle, with two sets of bagpipes in tow. The team, made up of current and ex-Household Cavalry servicemen and civilians, departed from Windsor Castle on 29 July, and will cover the distance in two sub-teams that will pass the bagpipes between them like a baton at each handover point.
This mammoth mission will culminate on 7 August, at the world-famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, where the walkers will be part of the pre-show entertainment.
All funds raised will go towards the support and rehabilitation of injured soldiers, some of whom are very good friends of the team, who bear mental and physical injuries, as well as to soldiers, ex-soldiers and families affected by injuries and death sustained from operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Falklands, and Bosnia.
Team leader Martin Semple (Household Cavalry (Blues & Royals) 2007 – 2015) said: “I’m a massive champion for the Royal British Legion in that there is all sorts of work they do for the Forces community and not just soldiers serving past or present.
“I also want to raise awareness for the RBL in that it’s more than just Remembrance Sunday, it’s more than just a poppy, it’s more than a couple of old boys in blazer and gauntlets carrying the standard. It’s modern, it’s constant all year round. It manages welfare, mental health, physical injuries, re homing, jobs etc and that’s what I want to get across.”
Welcoming parties have been arranged at each location and a pipe band greeted the walkers at the top of Easington Street, from where they marched to the Stadium of Light. The team were welcomed into the home of Sunderland AFC by local dignitaries, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Sunderland, Councillor David Snowdon and Councillor Dianne Snowdon and Sunderland AFC ambassador and former captain Kevin Ball.
Speaking about the walk, Kevin said: “It’s a phenomenal effort that the guys are undertaking and for two brilliant causes. The north east has a proud military history and we as a football club undertake a lot of work with the armed forces, including supporting military charities, so being able to play a small part in what these guys are doing is an honour for us. It was great to welcome them to the Stadium of Light and wish them well on the rest of their journey.”