District prepares to safely celebrate VE Day

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Shipston mayor Dan Scobie will celebrate VE Day from his front garden

AT a time when many events have been postponed or cancelled, the 75th anniversary of VE Day is an immovable moment in history.

Although large public gatherings are ruled out, communities have come up with new approaches to mark the moment when the Second World War in Europe ended.

Many will observe a minute’s silence at 11am, tomorrow, Friday, catch a Winston Churchill broadcast on the BBC at 3pm and tune in for a message from the Queen at 9pm.

But events are taking place across the district, in line with government guidance for people to stay at home.

Stratford’s original VE Day plans were cancelled earlier this year, but the town council, Welcombe Radio and Escape Arts have put together an alternative programme of events.

At 10am, Escape Arts has a virtual programme featuring an interview with a Stratford veteran who was at the 1945 celebrations. From 10.30am-2.45pm, Welcombe Radio has music, poem requests, anecdotes and song re-quests performed by Betsy Harmony.

The day will include readings and reflections from Stratford mayor Cllr Kate Rolfe, a performance by local opera singer Tora Wilson and a look at wartime cooking.

The town council is encouraging people to decorate their front gardens, and further activities include an arts competition for young people up to the age of 24 on the theme of peace.

Entries have to be in by noon on Monday and judging will be by the Herald, Escape Arts and artist Tom Sheppard, with the winning images appearing in next week’s paper.

Sunday will see reflections from local clergy and closing words from Escape Arts, the council and Welcombe Radio. For details of the events and the art competition, search for Stratford-upon-Avon VE Day Celebration on Facebook.

In Shipston, residents are being invited to decorate the front of their houses in red, white and blue on Friday and enjoy a picnic at 4pm.

Mayor Cllr Dan Scobie said: “We didn’t want to just let the date pass.”

In Alcester at 2.55pm musical residents are encouraged to play the Last Post from their doorstep, while at 6.55pm the town crier will “cry for peace” before residents are asked to “ring out for peace” at 7pm by ringing a bell from their front doors.

At 8pm the town will join in A Light for Peace, with people placing a torch, lantern, light or candle outside or in a window – though not sky lanterns.

In Henley, the Last Post will feature a rendition by David Broadbent streamed on Henley Matters at 10.58am before the minute’s silence. At 2pm church bells will ring to signal the start of the town’s “garden party”, with residents raising a glass from their own gardens at 3pm.

Town crier Les Long will “cry for peace” at 6.55pm, while the “ring out for peace” and Light for Peace will take place at 7pm and 8pm. At 9pm people are invited to sing We’ll Meet Again from their doorsteps.

Avon Dassett residents have contributed to a number of videos on the village website, including lyrics to wartime tunes for a singalong from their gardens at 3pm, led by local piano teacher Sally Crompton. For details visit www.avondassett.com.

In Wilmcote, the Village Outreach group, set up to help people during the crisis, has

arranged a variety of activities, including more than 100 homes dressed up in red, white and blue.

At 2.30pm tomorrow, a piper will play ahead of the broadcast at 3pm. At 3.05pm church bells will ring to signal the start of the doorstep picnic and garden games. A toast at 4pm will be followed until 5pm by a flatbed truck touring the village for a sing-song.

And around the district many other communities will also mark the day.

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