Veterans at the heart of VE Day celebration

Winston Churchill waves to the crowds on VE Day. Picture: Imperial War Museum
Winston Churchill waves to the crowds on VE Day. Picture: Imperial War Museum
  • Shoreham man led the campaign for a national celebration
  • Second World War generation urged to join the march
  • Communities to plan local events alongside London programme
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VETERANS are being urged by the Royal British Legion to play a part in national commemorations for VE Day.

Amateur historian Neil Coppendale led a year-long campaign calling for a national celebration to mark the 70th anniversary.

William Hague, leader of the House of Commons, has since announced there will be three days of events across the country, as a result of the interest and support shown.

Mr Coppendale, of Church Green, Shoreham, said the Herald had played its part by supporting campaign, alongside the likes of Dame Vera Lynn and MPs, but it was an article in the Daily Mail in February about his campaign that finally moved the Prime Minister to take action.

The Second World War generation will be at the heart of the activities from May 8 to 10, including a march from Westminster Abbey and lunch in St James’s Park on the Sunday.

The Royal British Legion is urging veterans to take part in the commemorations in London and to ensure representation across all those who played an active role, an invitation has gone out to those who served in the military, the Home Guard or in any one of the reserved occupations, including medics, police and the Bevan Boys.

We hope that all communities will use the VE Day 70 commemorations to thank them and celebrate the role they played in our nation’s history

Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson, national president of the Royal British Legion

Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson, national president, said: “The commemoration of this conflict, still in living memory, gives us the opportunity to salute the Second World War generation.

“We hope that all communities will use the VE Day 70 commemorations to thank them and celebrate the role they played in our nation’s history.”

All veterans will be able to be accompanied by a carer. An online registration site is now live and the closing date for all applications is midnight on Friday, April 10. Visit www.britishlegion.org.uk/ve70vets to register or telephone 0808 802 8080 for more information.

Mr Coppendale said: “This will be the last major anniversary when veterans and those who served at home will be able to gather in some numbers.

“The events announced by the Government will provide a fitting tribute to this country’s ‘finest generation’ and to the greatest day in this country’s history. They will also raise awareness for this generation and, in turn, future generations.

“The bravery, sacrifice, fortitude and sense of duty of the generation stand as an example for all time.”