Landmarks and lighting features across Sunderland are being lit red, white and blue to mark the World Transplant Games as it comes to the North East.
Sometimes known as the Transplant Olympics, the games are on from Saturday 17 to Friday 24 August.
Penshaw Monument, Northern Spire bridge, Fulwell Mill, Seaburn Lighthouse, Keel Square, Market Square and High Street West are all being lit up in the colours of the World Transplant Games for its duration. All the lights are switched-on from dusk on Saturday 17 August.
While NewcastleGateshead is the main centre for competitions, Sunderland is hosting three of the 16 sports – swimming at Sunderland Aquatic Centre, cycling at Hetton Lyons Country Park and ten pin bowling at Hollywood Bowling Washington.
Councillor John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, said: “We’re delighted to be able to show our support for the World Transplant Games and organ donations by lighting up key landmarks.
“The games are about raising awareness of organ donation and encouraging more people to sign up as organ donors, so anything that helps spread the word about this very important cause has to be a good thing.
“They’re also about celebrating a second chance of living life to the full, human courage and physical fitness.
“And each and every one of the inspiring athletes taking part will have their own amazing life stories to tell, so I think this is also a fitting opportunity to honour them and their achievements.”
Participants aged from six to 84, from 59 countries across the world, including as far afield as Kenya, Mongolia and Nepal are all due in the North East.
All those taking part are either recipients of organ or tissue transplant, living donors or donor families.
Sports range from athletics, basketball and cycling, to football, swimming, Petanque and volleyball.
People will be able to go along and watch the swimming at Sunderland Aquatic Centre on Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 August, cycling at Hetton Lyons Country Park on Tuesday 20 August and ten pin bowling at Hollywood Bowling Washington on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 August.
There is free entry for spectators at the events.
Councillor Kelly, hopes that Sunderland residents can turn out to cheer on all those taking part.
He said: “Please do show your support for the competitors and their cause by attending an event.
“It’s a real honour to be one of the cities hosting the games. Each and every one of the athletes taking part will have battled against the odds to take part in one of the world’s greatest sporting events.
“I’m hoping the people of our city will turn out to watch the swimming, cycling and ten pin bowling competitions for free at Sunderland Aquatic Centre, Hetton Lyons Country Park and Hollywood Bowling Washington and to cheer the athletes on and give them a warm Sunderland welcome.
“I also hope they’ll be inspired by the athletes taking part to sign up to become organ donors and discuss their wishes with their loved ones because that’s what the games are all about.”
At any one time there are around 5,900 people on the transplant waiting list and on average three people die every day who could have benefited from organ donation.
Cllr Kelly added: “It’s really important that we sign up to organ donation and tell our families about it so that they know our wishes when we’re gone.”
Hosting three of the World Transplant Games sports builds on Sunderland’s growing reputation as an award winning events city and the success of events like the National Cyclocross at Hetton Lyons Country Park in 2018 and the Tennis Winter Cup.
To sign up the NHS Organ donor register visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk.
For more information about the World Transplant Games visit: worldtransplantgames.org