VE Day 75: Commemorating in Lock-down

by Della M. Nevill MBE

Having lived in my village for nearly 30 years, there are certain expectations when it comes to marking key events – historical or otherwise – a flower festival in the church or a parade through the village by the primary school, RBL etc.

I remember when we commemorated 50 years of VE/VJ Day back in 1995 there was a series of planned events centred around a marquee on the village playing field. My husband rigged up a sound system and prominent villagers read poignant prose while appropriate musical accompaniment from the time was played e.g. Gustav Holst, Edward Elgar, as well as a selection of more upbeat wartime numbers. There was a wealth of wartime experiences relived and shared with future generations.

25 years on in 2020, however, things had to be different due to the continued lock-down restrictions with many in the vulnerable category. We didn’t let that stop us though, we still wanted to mark this significant milestone, if not for the whole village, for at least our immediate neighbourhood. We put up bunting on the front and back of our house and, once again, my husband rigged up the sound system, this time placing the speakers in our upstairs windows to ensure maximum reach!

We decided to follow the suggested national theme of afternoon tea, so I delved into the kitchen drawer and found a well-thumbed Claridges masterclass recipe booklet and set to work. On the menu: a selection of dainty sandwiches – smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise, shortbread fingers, chocolate covered strawberries, and the all-important scones with jam and cream. A special shout-out for Dave our milkman who delivered a carton of double cream direct to my doorstep early Friday morning!
At 3.45pm straight after the excellent BBC TV coverage, which we knew our mainly elderly neighbours would be watching, we delivered afternoon tea on vintage cake stands to them to the sounds of the 1940s era. We put a 30-minute playlist together including songs by wartime favourites – Gracie Fields, Billy Cotton and his band, Glenn Millar and Vera Lynn. We finished the set with We’ll Meet Again which we all sang along to.
It may not have been the usual big bang approach which our village does so well, but it certainly hit the spot for a small segment of our community as proved by some of the unsolicited lovely feedback we have received.

Thank you both so much, you gave me the best day in 7 weeks… I will never forget it

the food was 1st class – everything