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How to commemorate VE Day in Surrey and Hampshire during lockdown

7 minute read
How to commemorate VE Day in Surrey and Hampshire during lockdown

Published by Lettie Buxton at 12:00am 7th May 2020. (Updated at 8:18am 8th May 2020)

People across Surrey and Hampshire are getting ready to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day tomorrow (8  May).

A wide range of commemorative events are planned for our two counties, despite the coronavirus lockdown.

We are being urged to mark the day with stay-at-home garden parties, taking part in a two minute silence, and a singalong after the Queen's speech.

The day is to remember the announcement of peace on 8 May 1945 after six years of World War Two.

In a message broadcast to the nation, the prime minister Winston Churchill said:

"Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight, Tuesday the eighth of May.

"We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing."

A day later, Germany surrendered to Russia after the battle for Berlin - and the war in Europe was over.

The traditional early May bank holiday was shifted from Monday (4 May) to tomorrow so we can  honour the men and women who served.

Farnham cenotaph

The Royal British Legion has announced a programme of activity for people to participate  in while staying at home.

This includes a VE Day 75 livestream from 11.15am, sharing stories and memories from those who served and sacrificed during World War Two, and recognising the difficulties people are experiencing today.

A VE Day learning pack, which includes first-hand accounts from the World War Two generation, veteran interviews and a range of activities, is also available online for children aged seven to 14.

Programme of events:

  • 11am: Two minute silence, which Eagle Radio will also be marking on-air.
  • 3pm: People are being invited to take to their doorsteps to raise a glass, cheer and clap during The Nation's Toast to the Heroes of World War Two. This will include a chant of the phrase: "To those who gave so much, we thank you."
  • 9pm: A pre-recorded speech by the Queen will be broadcast at 9pm, the very moment her father, King George VI, addressed the people over radio on 8 May, 1945. This will be followed by a national ‘We’ll Meet Again’ sing-a-long.
Farnham remembrance

And for those who want to find out how their relatives took part all those years ago, ancestry.com in partnership with the government is offering free access to enable people to research their families' war records.

Meanwhile, official VE Day commemorations across Surrey and Hampshire have been moved online.

Find out how your area is celebrating below:

Badshot Lea and Hale:

On Sunday (10 May), the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale will mark VE Day with a special online service, available from 9.30am.

The service will use images, music and memories from World War Two and will reflect on similarities and differences between the war and the current lockdown.

There will be readings from the Bible by Lance Corporal Bibbings of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, along with prayers, a hymn and the National Anthem.

Elmbridge:

Elmbridge Borough Council is urging residents to come together in their homes, on their doorsteps and in their front gardens to remember this historic occasion.

Meanwhile Elmbridge Museum is hosting an online exhibition titled 'Elmbridge at War: The Blitz in our Borough', focusing on Elmbridge's experience during the war.

It has also created three ‘hidden treasures’ videos, which bring to life World War Two objects from the museum's collection and explain their significance.

Epsom & Ewell:

Epsom & Ewell Borough Council is calling on residents with family stories, photographs and memories from VE Day to share these as part of a special collection.

Photographs should be scanned – or simply photographed with a mobile phone – and emailed to the council at boroughinsight@epsom-ewell.gov.uk .

The council is supporting the What's On in Epsom and Age Concern Epsom & Ewell’s VE Day Stay At Home Celebration, which is suggesting people put out homemade bunting, as they did in 1945, learn dances from the 1940s and try out some war time recipes.

The local Royal British Legion group is also calling on children to draw a large poppy and place it in their front window on VE Day.

Guildford:

Leader of Guildford Borough Council, Councillor Caroline Reeves, is encouraging residents to "be sociable and talk to your neighbours, but from a safe distance of two metres" on VE Day.

She also suggested creating home-made bunting, dance-and-sing-a-long party packs and victory day baking.

More ideas can be found on the council website.

Runnymede:

Runnymede Borough Council will be raising a Union Jack flag outside the Civic Offices to commemorate the day.

An album will also be posted on the council's Facebook page, showcasing photographs from Chertsey Museum of past VE day celebrations.

Rushmoor:

Rushmoor Borough Council has put together a virtual VE Day 75 programme so that people can commemorate and celebrate VE Day 75 together while still apart during lockdown.

Among the highlights will be special online messages from Aldershot's Garrison Commander, Lt Col Paddy Baines; the Mayor of Rushmoor, Councillor Sue Carter; and Leader of Rushmoor Borough, Councillor David Clifford.

Families will be able to take part in online interactive history workshops and specially-created VE Day 75 fun activities.

Actors from Torchlight Heritage will recreate some of the emotions of the time in 'Voices from Aldershot's homefront', three special short films that will be shown on Facebook today,tomorrow and Saturday.

Historian Dr Kate Vigurs will be giving a free online talk on Churchill's secret army, the Special Operations Executive. 

There are links on the council's website to other VE Day activities, national resources for learning about VE Day, free 'at home' celebration packs and ideas, plus resources for veteran support.

bunting

Spelthorne:

The borough council will be streaming its virtual commemorations, including songs from Spelthorne Young Voices, live on its social media channels and Youtube at 3pm.

Bill Sykes a centenarian, veteran of World War Two who signed up to fight in September 1939 when he was 19, has shared his memories of the war which will be available to listen to on the council's website tomorrow.

Residents are also asked to take a photograph of themselves and their family members making the V for Victory salute, and email it to VEday75@spelthorne.gov.uk to be added to an online gallery.

Any original photos taken on VE Day can be shared via the above email address, as part of the Spelthorne Museum Online Exhibition and Archive.

Tandridge:

The borough council will be signposting residents to local and nationwide commemoration activities they can do safely from home, for example the BBC’s ‘Great British Bunting’ campaign, the VE Day ‘Toast at 3pm’ and ‘Stay at home street parties’.

It is also asking residents to share their own plans to commemorate the day, which the council will then publish.

Waverley:

The Mayor of Waverley will be doing a vlog tomorrow which will be shared on the council's social media channels. 

A spokesperson for the council also said a stay-at-home street party is a "great way for communities to get involved, even if at a distance".

Woking:

Woking Borough Council is supporting the BBC’s #GreatBritishBunting campaign and the ‘Nation’s Toast to the Heroes of World War Two’ through its #WeAreWoking channels.

Hampshire County Council:

Residents in Hampshire are invited to join the council online tomorrow to watch a specially prepared film to mark VE Day.

Surrey County Council:

People across the county are being encouraged to take a photo of themselves doing the V for Victory salute made famous by Winston Churchill and share via social media, using #VE75 #SurreyRememembers and #(yourlocalarea)remembers.

They can also have a go at some wartime recipes and create a poster or bunting using the council's online template.

On Sunday (10 May), from 9.45am to 10.30am, Guildford Cathedral will be streaming a Service of Remembrance on its YouTube channel.