A couple have said their teenage son who was killed in Afghanistan 12 years ago “will be looking down on us and be really, really proud” after they were made MBEs for their charity work.
Tom and Carla Cuthbertson have devoted themselves to raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity and raising the profile of those who have served in the military since 19-year-old Nathan died in 2008.
The couple’s achievements include the annual 60-mile (96.5km) Cuthy’s Big Bike Ride, from Catterick Garrison to their home city of Sunderland, and the Memorial Wall, which honours those who have given their lives in conflicts since 1945.
Mr and Mrs Cuthbertson are currently devoted to further developing the National Veterans’ Walk, a pathway in Sunderland featuring the names of hundreds who have served their country – both living and dead.
Mr Cuthbertson, who is an ambulance emergency technician and former paratrooper, said: “This award is for everybody that’s chipped in to the charities and helped us.
“It’s really been gifted from the people who’ve supported us over the years.”
He told the PA news agency: “We’re shocked really. We weren’t expecting it at all.
“We’ve just done a lot of charity work over the years – built Memorial Walls and things.
“It wasn’t for any awards or anything, we just did that in memory of our son, really.”
Mr Cuthbertson said of their MBEs: “It’s a lovely, lovely gesture and such a massive honour to receive an award like that. It makes us so proud.
“I think our Nathan will be looking down on us and be really, really proud.
“I think it’s a pat on the back from our Nathan.”
Private Nathan Cuthbertson was only 19 when he was killed while on patrol with the 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, in Helmand Province in June 2008.
Following the tragedy, Mr Cuthbertson, 51, set up the charity Brothers In Arms, with housing officer Mrs Cuthbertson, 48, which led to the construction of the Memorial Wall next to the existing war memorial in Sunderland.
Cuthy’s Big Bike Ride has become a huge annual event, although it had to be cancelled this year due to coronavirus, and the Veterans’ Walk in Mowbray Park, Sunderland, already features more than 700 names.
It is made up of granite plaques bearing an individual’s name, rank and badge of their military unit, which are laid on the pathway as a permanent reminder of anyone who has served.
Mr Cuthbertson said: “It’s not just about how many years you’ve served or how many medals you’ve won or how good you were in the forces.
“It’s just recognising your own personal achievements, your own military history.”
More on the Cuthbertsons’ work can be found at https://www.nationalveteranswalk.co.uk/
Additional Reporting By The Press Association