Walk to trace forefathers leads to new charity launch

Musician Alan McLeod, Paul Stephenson and Andrew Charlton.
Musician Alan McLeod, Paul Stephenson and Andrew Charlton.

Two Northumberland men have come together to launch a new charity to provide support for ex-service personnel and their dependants.

The idea came about after events manager Andrew Charlton, of Broomhill, decided to walk from Ypres to Albert to re-trace the steps of soldiers of the Tyneside Scottish.

Mr Charlton’s great-grandfather, Major Gordon McQueen, served in the regiment during the First World War and survived the Battle of the Somme and the British offensive at Arras.

And his great-uncle was one of the Tyneside Scottish’s founders and became Honorary Colonel.

Bedlington film-maker and photographer Paul Stephenson decided to accompany Mr Charlton on the walk and make a documentary about it for schools.

And he was surprised to discover that his great-uncle Corporal Harry Lisle also served in the Tyneside Scottish, but never returned.

The pair raised thousands of pounds through their efforts and decided to set up Walking the Front to support veterans in the area originally served by the Tyneside Scottish.

Mr Charlton said: “Our aims are very simple – to provide micro-grants and micro-loans to qualifying ex-servicemen and women that can change a life.

“This might be a sleeping bag to keep a homeless person warm, a bag of tools to get someone started in a job, the fees for a course to help get employment, or even some practical help for home. We don’t want to limit the type of help we give and plan to invite applications for support very soon.”

The charity founders will be walking the front along the Normandy beaches again next May.

Walking the Front has also had the backing of a special charity single, the proceeds from which go to the charity.

This year musician Alan McLeod released Jellicoe Express (Walking the Front Mix), a specially-mixed version of a song telling the story of a soldier’s loved ones awaiting his return home to the glens of Scotland.

Anyone wishing to support the pair can visit www.walkingthefront.com