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Celebrate VE Day 75 with a Stay At Home Street Party

This Friday is the 75th anniversary of VE Day when Allied Forces brought the Second World War to an end in Europe.

Much of Britain had been planning to pull out all the stops to commemorate the event on the bank holiday.

Shirley Brown's family, at the back, celebrating VE Day in Sittingbourne
Shirley Brown's family, at the back, celebrating VE Day in Sittingbourne

But the coronavirus lockdown has led to a whole raft of events either being postponed or cancelled altogether.

A determined few, however, are planning to celebrate with stay-at-home street parties.

Back in 1945, towns, cities and villages let their hair down at the end of six years of ferocious fighting by heaving tables into the middle of roads and stringing patriotic red, white and blue bunting across lampposts.

Britain was still in the middle of rationing so favourite meals were limited to the likes of cauliflower cheese, 'bubble and squeak' (fried mashed potato and leftover vegetables) and Spam hash.

The music charts were dominated by the big band sounds of Glen Miller, the harmonies of the Andrews Sisters and crooners like Frank Sinatra and Perry Como.

How we celebrated VE Day in the streets 75 years ago. Picture: KCC Archives
How we celebrated VE Day in the streets 75 years ago. Picture: KCC Archives

Staff from Kent History and Library Centre archives in Maidstone have made a 30-minute video reading excerpts from personal diaries, parish magazines and local government literature together with how the events were planned.

Kent Voices from VE Day can be viewed at kentarchives.org.uk

The government has put together a pack so residents can print off posters and bunting along with ideas on how to decorate homes. For details, visit www.ve-vjday75.gov.uk/plan-your-ve-day-party

The Royal British Legion has helped to arrange some remote activity so people can participate at home including a VE Day 75 live-stream featuring national moments of remembrance and thanksgiving and a learning pack for young people. It will be available after a two minutes silence at 11am from rbl.org.uk/veday75.

Jimmy Cricket appearing in The Best Seat In The House, a special variety recording aimed at people in care homes
Jimmy Cricket appearing in The Best Seat In The House, a special variety recording aimed at people in care homes

Nationally

9am: Special VE Day episode of the Best Seat in the House, an online variety concert created for the elderly and those in care homes during the lockdown. It has been made by The Not Forgotten - a British Armed Forces charity for serving and ex-service men and women.

The twice-weekly, hour-long shows include appearances from Sir Cliff Richard, Brian May, Brian Conley, Anita Dobson, Lesley Joseph, Bonnie Langford, Jimmy Cricket and cast members ofEmmerdale, EastEnders and ‘Allo ‘Allo! View it on You Tube here www.youtube.com/TheNotForgottenAssoc

11am: Two-minutes' silence

3pm: Winston Churchill's speech on BBC TV. Expect to hear pipers across the UK playing in their gardens.

4pm: Garden picnics with 1940s food and fancy dress.

6pm: Raise glasses to your neighbours.

9pm: Sing-along to Dame Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again. Lyrics available at www.rbl.org.uk/stories/ve-day-singalong.

VE Day 75
VE Day 75

Dover

Dover, immortalised by the Vera Lynn wartime song There'll Be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs of Dover, has a special place in Britain's battle against Germany. The district council is asking people to send in pictures of them taking part in the Nation's Toast at 3pm, led by council chairman CllrCllr Michael Conolly. Pictures will be put together in a video montage. Email pr@dover.gov.uk

Greenhithe

Sarah Gaimster said: "We are having a street party in Greenhithe with bunting, house decorations and wearing red, white and blue. The kids are making hats to wear, music will be played and we will be eating lunch on drives, from a safe distance, of course."

Medway Lindy Hoppers: this is the way to do the Charleston Stroll for VE Day on Friday
Medway Lindy Hoppers: this is the way to do the Charleston Stroll for VE Day on Friday

Maidstone & Medway

The Medway Lindy Hoppers have teamed up with the Royal British Legion, based at Aylesford, to try to teach everyone how to do the Charleston Stroll. Dancers' spokesman Kelly Smith said: "We would like to get as many people as possible dancing on their doorstep on Friday and would love to see videos of everyone dancing."

Kelly also works at Valley Invicta Primary School at East Borough, Maidstone, and spent two terms teaching the two Year 6 classes to Lindy Hop as part of their Second World War lessons.

She said: "They were due to host a VE Day street party for their families toshow them what they had learnedbut sadly the party was cancelled when the school closed. So I have challenged the children to dress up in 1940s outfits and send me a video of themselves dancing one of the routines which I will then share on our school Facebook page on VE Day as part of the celebrations."

For more dancing tips see the Medway Lindy Hoppers Facebook page.

Ditton: Rachel Jones said: "We are having a Stay At Home Street Party in Ditton to commemorate VE Day. Houses to be decorated red, white and blue and neighbours will have a picnic on their front lawn - socially distanced of course!"

Leeds: Gemma Wallace said: "We are having a street party on the driveways in Meredith Close, Leeds, followed by our weekly street quiz."

Barming: Paul Alford added: "Neighbours have dropped a leaflet o hopefully there is a good pick-up in Barming."

Maidstone: Carolyn Warner said: "We are hosting a VE Day party from our driveways in Littlebourne Road complete with disco from DJ Mogsy Morris from Love Soul Radio London who will be taking requests."

Hawkinge: Julie Ann Danch said: "In Hawkinge we are having someone dressed in Second World War British Army Parachute Regiment uniform and raising money for the Royal British Legion."

Halling: Villagers in Halling will also be celebrating from their own homes.

Northfleet

Donna Burnham said: "My husband Clive is setting up his Crazy Music Disco in our front garden in Grieves Road, Northfleet. We have put leaflets through all the neighbours' doors with a card so they can text their requests to us."

Selling (near Faversham)

The White Lion pub in Selling, near Faversham, is organising virtual poetry readings and will be leading the village in a chorus of We'll Meet Again at 9pm. It is also offering takeaway picnics for residents to enjoy at home.

The VE Day display at the Cottage of Curiosities in Rose Street, Sheerness
The VE Day display at the Cottage of Curiosities in Rose Street, Sheerness

Sheppey

2-4pm: Singer Alex Nicole Jamieson, 21, performs songs from her driveway at 39 Buckthorne Road, Minster. Sheppey.

3pm: Barry Barnes,81, the standard bearer of the Queenborough and District Naval Ensign Association, will be lowering the White Ensign flag in his front garden in Southview Gardens, Sheerness.He was six at VE Day and living in Clyde Street, Sheerness. He said: "All I can remember is a sea of blue, white and red." Neighbours are welcome to support him, at a safe distance.

5pm: Dan Dizzi's garden disco in North Road, Queenborough (until 9pm)

6pm: The Rev Cindy Kent and assistant lay minister Ashley Shiel from Queenborough will lead a service of thanksgiving to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day streamed live on the Minster Abbey Facebook page with hymns, Bible readings and prayers plus the Mayor of Queenborough will lay a wreath at the war memorial to the recorded background of the bells of the church pealing out just as they did 75 years ago.

Alex Glover, 10, is ready to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day at his home in Rectory Road, Sittingbourne
Alex Glover, 10, is ready to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day at his home in Rectory Road, Sittingbourne

Sittingbourne

Borden: 4pm, Wren's Road, Borden, near Sittingbourne is staging a self-isolating street party with 15 families decorating their homes with flags and bunting.

Vincent Park: Residents in Vincent Park Estate are planning to mark the anniversary.

The Meads: Victoria Rossi said: "We have a couple of houses participating in Jade Close on The Meads and have been delivering leaflets to encourage more. We are planning lots of decorations, food, cocktails and games."

Penny Dorey added: "We've decorated our windows and garden and will be taking part in the 11am silence, tea at 4pm and then singing in the evening. Games and fun throughout the day."

Snipeshill: Alex Glover, 10, from Rectory Road has switched his NHS display for a VE Day theme which includes a tribute to 100-year-old Captain Tom. He will be wearing an evacuee costume with shorts, waistcoat and cloth cap for his teddy bears' picnic on Friday.

Thanet

Ramsgate: 3pm. Richard Joy, standard bearer for the Royal Navy Association, will lower his flag in his front garden in Ramsgate to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe as part of a nationwide virtual parade. He said: "This is to also remember those who fought, many of whom never returned. We owe our existence to them all. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them."

If you are hosting a socially-distant garden picnic or raising a glass to your neighbours, please email pictures to multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk Please remember to include your names and the road name.

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