Chelmsford will commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day this Friday at 2.55pm, in a virtual ceremony hosted by the City Council. It will bring people from Chelmsford together to mark the occasion, on this unusual Bank Holiday.
The Mayor of Chelmsford, Councillor Bob Massey, will lead the broadcast, which will be shown on the Council’s Facebook page (@ChelmsCouncil) at 2.55pm. The video will have all the usual key elements of a civic commemoration – but with people filmed at home and sharing footage of performances given before the national lockdown started.
The Mayor will give a reading from his garden of Winston Churchill’s VE Day speech to the nation on 8 May 1945 and Chelmsford City Council Leader Councillor Stephen Robinson will read a ‘Tribute to the Millions’. There will also be readings from The Royal British Legion, a prayer from the Dean of Chelmsford Cathedral, and pupils from local schools have sent recordings of memories of older residents collected for Chelmsford Museum.
Music is an important part of VE Day commemorations; ‘The Last Post’ will be performed by Alison Smart of The Essex Yeomanry Band and piper Jonathan Swan has recorded ‘Battle’s O’er’ - the traditional air played on the bagpipes – from his garden. Other musicians will be giving us a taste of the 1940s, including songs such as ‘Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree’ performed by one of our current NHS heroes, Broomfield nurse Asha Laurence.
Most official VE Day celebrations have been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic but organisers are encouraging people to take part at home instead to pay tribute to those from all nations who gave their lives in the Second World War. Although Chelmsford’s ceremony is not quite what was originally planned, the Mayor of Chelmsford says it’s a chance for the community to come together in a different way:
Cllr. Massey said, “We may not be able to have memorials, street parties and parades right now, but there are still ways for us to remember this defining day in the history of our nation and the sacrifices of the Second World War generation. A heartfelt thanks to everyone who has sent us their videos and recordings to make this broadcast possible and thanks to everyone at home for staying in and keeping safe on a weekend that we had all planned to spend with each other.”
Chelmsford Council Leader, Councillor Stephen Robinson, said: "Let us not forget the service personnel and civilians who served the cause in the Second World War, and the ultimate sacrifice made by millions across the world. We owe them so much, not least our efforts to maintain the hard-won peace. So please join us on VE Day in any way you can to show your thanks and support for those who gave so much. Despite the lockdown, we will commemorate this poignant anniversary. We will never forget the sacrifices that were made. Now more than ever, we must come together and put aside differences between nations."
VE Day 75 is also being marked by commemorations around Chelmsford - the most prominent of which will be on the multi-storey roundabout in the city centre. Two tanks made from willow by local artist Deb Hart – a British Sherman Tank and a German Panzer – will be on display amongst the flower beds until the end of the year. The sundial bed in the Hylands Estate Pleasure Gardens and the Inchbonnie Road Roundabout in South Woodham Ferrers will also have signs to remember VE Day.
Details of VE Day 75 broadcasts, including a programme of the ceremony on 8 May will be available at www.chelmsford.gov.uk/veday and on social media later this week.
5 May 2020