A SIGN company has played a major role in highlighting a premier North-East sporting spectacle.

Astley has made and installed a 40-metre Great North Run banner on the Tyne Bridge.

The structure celebrates the half-marathon, which takes place on Sunday (September 7).

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Astley, which has its headquarters in Gateshead, fitted a similar sign for last year’s event.

However, bosses said this project carries greater meaning as it comes with race organisers gearing up to mark the run reaching one million entrants.

Gavin Redhead, Astley’s commercial director, told The Northern Echo the firm was proud to be working on the showpiece event.

He said: “You can feel the enthusiasm in the workers, and the project brings the added significance of the locality, which is a real feather in our cap.

“People may not neccessarily appreciate all of the work that goes into something like when they see it up on the bridge, but it’s more than 40 metres wide and is a big structure.

“The work was also a little bit of a change from what were expecting on last year.

“They came to us with the one millionth runner concept and that gave us a fresh challenge to look at.”

The Great North Run is expected to feature stellar athletes such as Olympic champion Mo Farah and former Great North Run winner Tirunesh Dibaba.

However, Astley will also be represented on the streets, with workers Michelle Doughty, Anth Lumsden and Stuart Ricalton running for charity.

Ms Doughty, an account manager, is raising money for Asthma UK in memory of her cousin Krystle, with contracts manager Mr Lumsden supporting Help for Heroes.

Mr Ricalton, a sign engineer, is raising funds for the Redheugh Boys Club football team.

David Forrester, co-owner and sales director, added: “It's fantastic three members of our team are taking part and raising much needed funds for charity.

“Given our ties to the run, we'll be doing everything we can to support Michelle, Anth and Stuart.”

Astley was re-launched in 1990 after a management buyout by Mr Forrester and fellow director David Redhead.

In 2012, it was re-branded to become Astley, incorporating Astley Signs, Astley Imaging and Astley Maintenance.

Its clients include the Hilton Hotel Group, Sainsbury's and Esso, and it has also designed signs for the Metro Centre, Eldon Square and the Metro Radio Arena.