THEATREGOERS have stumped up thousands of pounds for the country’s leading ex-servicemen’s charity.

The National Theatre’s award-winning production of War Horse, about the role of horses in the First World War, is currently being staged at the Sunderland Empire.

The theatre chose the Royal British Legion as its charity for the year – the conflict’s centenary - and collections have been held at each performance since January, so far raising £8,000.

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In the last year, the Legion has helped 1,200 Serving personnel, veterans and their families across the North-East.

Marcus Hawthorn, Area Manager, Northern, for The Royal British Legion, said: “We are delighted that Sunderland Empire has chosen the Legion as their beneficiary charity for 2014. “Every penny they raise from bucket collections will help us to continue providing practical advice and support for the whole Armed Forces family whenever they need us. “We are extremely grateful to the Empire and hope the general public will dig deep at the end of each show to support our year-round work within the Service community.”

Ben Phillips, the theatre’s general manager, said: “We are pleased to support The Royal British Legion as our chosen charity for 2014. Audiences over the years have shown substantial generosity to charity collections and we are delighted to show our support to such a beneficial cause on this centenary year.”

War Horse features ground-breaking puppetry work by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, which brings breathing and galloping horses to life on stage.

For details of performances call the box office on 0844 871 3022 or visit