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logo 1111Wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said: "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

So with that in mind it's good to see that despite the country being in lockdown, we can still celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day on Friday (May 8th).

People across the Melton borough area are being urged to applaud outside their homes on Friday at 3pm to pay tribute to armed forces veteransto mark VE Day, when victory for the Allies was confirmed at the end of the Second World War.

A major celebration of that momentous time - May 8, 1945 - had been planned in the town centre and street parties were also being organised and a parade followed by a service in St Mary's Church, but restrictions to limit the spread of Coronavirus mean they can no longer go ahead.

However, organisers will be holding events online and urging local people to follow them and get involved on the day by taking part in the community applause.

The ‘40s weekend Melton Mowbray’ Facebook page is hosting a live celebration, including history talks, music from the era, inspirational speeches and ceremonial salutes.

Vintage singers May Blossom and The Blighty Belles will be performing lives sets between 11am and 1.45pm and the Polish Heritage Academy will give a presentation on the important role played by Poles during the war.


Syd Charles and his eight-year-old son, also called Syd, pictured playing the bagpipes in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, before lockdown.

Speeches made on VE Day by King George VI and Prime Minister Winston Churchill will be shown before bagpipes are played by Syd Charles and his eight-year-old son, also called Syd, and the applause is held at 3pm.

The Last Post will be sounded by Sy Prior and then a two-minute silence held to commemorate those who gave their lives in the war.

logo 1111The event can be followed at www.facebook.com/40s-weekend-Melton-Mowbray-2205596236417302 for those who wish to do so.

*Melton military historian Penny Burton is also organising an online VE Day party on Friday and encouraging people to join in with the 3pm clap for veterans.

She has been selling party packs on her website both locally and across the country and will be broadcasting her virtual street party from 10am, with a baking demonstration, a costume parade, interviews with war veterans and a 1940s’ sing-a-long.

Penny said: "We are getting people to dress up, decorate their houses and streets and come out at 3pm to do a clap for veterans."

Go to www.pennyguides.co.uk for more details on this event.

*Melton Borough Council has launched a ‘best dressed window’ competition, encouraging residents to decorate their homes in red, white and blue with bunting and posters, with a £50 voucher up for grabs for the best display.

Councillor Alan Pearson, portfolio holder for people and communities and responsible for the Armed Forces Covenant, said: "In these unprecedented times the celebrations for VE Day have had to be scaled back with street parties and events cancelled.

"The message remains to stay at home and stay safe, but to still mark the occasion.

"We are encouraging people to decorate their windows and take part in some of the national activities taking place on Friday from home.

"People can post photos of their decorated windows on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #MeltonVE75 or on Melton Borough Council’s Facebook page.”

To enter the ‘best dressed window’ competition, residents are asked to post photos on social media before Sunday evening (May 10).

logo 1111*And the Diocese of Leicester is also inviting everyone to watch a pre-recorded service to mark VE Day celebrations on Friday at 12noon.

Leicester Cathedral will celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day with other key members of local Civic and Diocesan life.

The service will be led by Canon Alison Adams, Sub-Dean of Leicester Cathedral. Bible readings will be read by the Lord  Lieutenant Michael Kapur OBE and the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Councillor Annette Byrne.

A reading of Tribute to The Millions will be given by Col Wakefield, Deputy Commander of 7th Infantry Brigade. The address will be given by The Rt Revd Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester, and The Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Loughborough, will lead the Act of Commitment and prayers.

The service will be available to view on the day by clicking HERE. A service order will also be made available.

Everyone is also encouraged to join in with Big Picnic For Hope after the service, in aid of the Trussell Trust. For more information, click HERE.

logo 1111*And if that's not enough, ?For the first time in its 150-year history, the Royal Albert Hall will play host to a very special concert behind closed doors to join the nation in marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Mezzo Soprano Katherine Jenkins OBE will perform in an empty hall in a special half-hour concert starting at 6pm that will be streamed to audiences for free via YouTube.

Katherine will sing wartime favourites including The White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again; the latter performed as a virtual duet with Dame Vera Lynn. The timeless song, featuring the lyrics, ‘I know we’ll meet again some sunny day’, epitomised the emotions of the war and brought people hope and a sense of togetherness. Today, they ring true for families around the world separated from loved ones at this time of crisis.

This unique concert, made possible by the Mayor of London, will support the Royal Albert Hall’s fundraising appeal and SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity’s Emergency Response Fund.

To view the concert on the day click HERE.

Phil Balding, 05/05/2020

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