Campaigner welcomes news of VE Day event

Primary school children celebrating VE Day in Steyning in previous years
Primary school children celebrating VE Day in Steyning in previous years

A SHOREHAM campaigner has welcomed news of Government plans to commemorate the 70th anniversary of VE Day.

Neil Coppendale, of Church Green, has long been campaigning for the ‘significant national event’ to be recognised on May 8.

He said: “This is the last major opportunity to say thank you to the men and women whose bravery, sacrifice and sense of duty brought us the freedom to vote on May 7 this year.”

Following letters from Mr Coppendale and East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton to Lord Astor of Hever, the Lords spokesman on defence has said early planning has begun.

In a letter replying to both, Lord Astor wrote: “I can confirm that the Government will be hosting and funding a suitable event to mark this significant anniversary, which remains deep in the history and culture of our country.

“Our plans hope to mark the achievements not only of our Armed Forces personnel during the Second World War but also those who were ‘fighting’ another battle on the home front.

“Details are in their infancy; however, please be assured the MoD will work across government and external agencies to ensure an appropriate celebratory event will mark this significant anniversary.”

Mr Coppendale said he honestly did not know if the decision was made as a result of his relentless campaigning.

“I realise, of course, that the petition has never caught fire but it has provided a vehicle for promotion, so to speak,” he said.

“And it is certainly true that I have bombarded the powers who be, and some who might be, with letters, releases, emails and so on.

“I don’t have any doubt that we have made an impression, but whether we can claim victory, as it were, I really don’t know. I suppose the timing suggests we may have had something to do with it. They have left it ludicrously late, after all.”

Either way, he said it was ‘barely credible’ to think the occasion could have been allowed to slip by without any kind of remembrance.

Mr Coppendale is an amateur historian with a passionate interest in the Second World War and was among the 321,600 people who queued to file past Churchill’s catafalque in Westminster Hall in January, 1965.

The event marks the acceptance by the allies of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender.