Published: 10:35, 18 June 2020
| Updated: 15:48, 18 June 2020
Wartime entertainer Dame Vera Lynn has died at the age of 103, her family have confirmed.
A statement said: "The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain's best-loved entertainers at the age of 103.
"Dame Vera Lynn, who lived in Ditchling, East Sussex, passed away earlier today, 18 June 2020, surrounded by her close family."
Born Vera Margaret Welch on March 20, 1917 in East Ham, London, she was the daughter of a plumber father and a dressmaker mother.
She rose to fame performing outdoor concerts for troops in Egypt, India, and Burma during the war as part of Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA).
The songs most associated with her are We'll Meet Again, The White Cliffs of Dover, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and There'll Always Be an England.
A new video for We'll Meet Again was released in March this year to coincide with the icon's 103rd birthday.
It included a new voiceover aimed at bolstering the British public amid the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “We are facing a very challenging time at the moment, and I know many people are worried about the future. I’m greatly encouraged that despite these struggles, we have seen people joining together.
“Music is so good for the soul, and during these hard times we must all help each other to find moments of joy.”
The icon visited Kent on a number of occasions.
In 2009, aged 92, she took part in a sing-along with British Second World War veterans at a military show near Tunbridge Wells.
More than 100 veterans gathered for a reunion at the War and Peace Show,
They received warm applause after their impromptu performance of the White Cliffs of Dover.
The sing-along was part of a packed programme of events at the biggest military history event in the world, held at the Paddock Wood park.
She visited The Sea Sport Centre on the seafront as Dover MP Charlie Elphicke launched the £400m community idea.
Dame Vera was met by crowds as she arrived at the launch.
She said: "The port of Dover belongs to us. We want to look after it and we don't want anyone else looking after it or telling us what to do with it."
Paying tribute today, Mr Elphicke tweeted: "So incredibly sad to hear the news of the passing of Dame Vera Lynn.
"Such an amazing and inspiring person - Dame Vera played a vital role keeping the Port of Dover forever England. RIP."
Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke has called for a lasting memorial of Dame Vera in Dover – and paid tribute to her in Parliament.
She told the Commons: “Dame Vera was a true friend of our White Cliffs country, working to see off the planned sell-off of our Port and she will we have the thanks and prayers of our community.”
Chairman of Dover District Council, Cllr Michael Conolly, said: “We are saddened to hear of Dame Vera Lynn’s passing today. She will always be remembered with great fondness by all of us in White Cliffs Country.
“The people of the Dover district feel a strong connection with Dame Vera, who immortalised the nation’s spirit in her famous song, 'There’ll be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover'.
“Few entertainers can have had such a profound impact on the nation’s state-of-mind during the dark days of World War II. Dame Vera gave hope to millions of servicemen and women, and their families at home.
“On behalf of the District, we pass on our condolences to Dame Vera’s family.
“We’ll meet again.”