Commemorating 75 years since VE Day
2020 marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day – the moment the Germans unconditionally surrendered to the Allies, officially ending World War Two in Europe. In Britain, thousands of people came together to celebrate in streets up and down the country. This year, Friday 8th May has been made a public holiday, to celebrate our nation’s victory 75 years ago and to remember the sacrifices made by so many.
Our own history as a charity is deeply connected to VE Day as we too celebrate our 75th anniversary. The Army Benevolent Fund, as we were known then, was forged in the run-up to VE Day to ensure that soldiers returning from World War Two could be taken care of. Now, as then, we continue to be inspired by the community that we proudly support: the fortitude shown by so many in the face of life’s challenges. To commemorate the many personal victories of our beneficiaries over the past 75 years and to show our continuing respect and support for the Army Family, we have a series of VE75 initiatives planned – read on to find out how you can get involved!
Helping veterans in care homes celebrate VE Day
Many care homes have had to put their VE Day celebrations on hold due to the coronavirus. We want to help boost morale at this trying time and to bring a smile to as many veterans’ faces as possible on VE Day, so we have been working with five leading care providers: Royal British Legion Industries in Kent, Broughton House in Salford, Erskine in Scotland, the Royal Star and Garter in the South East and West Midlands, and the Royal Cambridge in Surrey to bring VE Day street parties into the homes!
Residents will be able to enjoy VE Day parties, with music, singing and other reminiscence activities – and we will ensure that even those having to self-isolate in their rooms will have the party brought to them where possible, with bunting and room decorations and VE Day-themed tea and cake. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for pictures and updates or read more here.
Invictus poetry recital by celebrities and charity ambassadors
William Ernest Henley’s famous poem feels especially pertinent at the present time, as it charges us to accept responsibility for our lives whatever the circumstances. The title, ‘Invictus’, translates from Latin as ‘unconquered’, so, in what we feel is an especially fitting tribute for VE Day, we are delighted that celebrity friends of our charity including Joanna Lumley, Ray Winstone, Jenny Agutter, Martin Clunes, Johnny Vegas and Luke Pasqualino have joined some of our inspiring beneficiaries and ambassadors in a powerful video recital.
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“Voices of VE Day: 75 Years On” podcast
A rich tapestry of VE Day memories from guests including Dame Patricia Routledge, war evacuee Sir Derek Jacobi, former Speaker of the House of Commons Baroness Boothroyd of Sandwell, 102 year old former Gunner Capt Jack Swaab MC, 98 year old former York and Lancaster Regiment officer Geoffrey Winter, 94 year old former ATS Driver Mechanic Barbara Weather, 78 year old historian Christopher Lee, 96 year old Bletchley Park veteran Betty Webb, 96 year old Chelsea Pensioner Bob Sullivan and 95 year old former Coldstream Guardsman Allan Jackson: more than 1000 years’ experience distilled into one fascinating podcast.
You can listen to the podcast here:
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Also listen on Spotify
VE75: The Medals on Grandad’s Chest podcast
The Antiques Roadshow’s arms and militaria expert, Mark Smith, talks us through the medals of the Second World War. Follow along and view pictures of the medals Mark discusses here.
Mark says: “The guys and girls that you see wearing medals over VE Day went through some rough times. The more you understand about the medals the more you can see how rough those times may have been. Their story is on their chest because their medals will tell you where they were.”