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Picture used of Dame Vera Lynn at her funeral taken by Kent photographer Mike Gunnill

There were thousands of photographs taken of Forces' Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn throughout her life.

But the one her family has asked specifically to be used at her funeral todaywas taken by retired Kent freelance photographer Mike Gunnill.

Dame Vera Lynnin Dover, 2010, for the launch of the People Port appeal fighting to keep the port in British ownership. This image was requested by her family for Dame Vera’s funeral. Picture: Mike Gunnill
Dame Vera Lynnin Dover, 2010, for the launch of the People Port appeal fighting to keep the port in British ownership. This image was requested by her family for Dame Vera’s funeral. Picture: Mike Gunnill

Mike, 69, from Upchurch, between Sittingbourne and Rainham, said: "The family liked the image of her with the white cliffs, the clouds and the sea."

The picture was taken in Dover in 2010 when she visited the town to support the £4million People's Port appeal to keep the Port of Dover in British hands.

Mr Gunnill recalled: "The photographers for the event were all kept back but I managed to get up some steps and came face-to-face with Dame Vera.

"I asked if I could have 30 seconds to take a picture 'to make her a star' and she agreed and called me a 'cheeky chappie.' Afterwards she thanked me."

He added: "I was touched, very pleased and surprised in equal parts that her family made this request to use the photograph. It is good that I can repay Dame Vera in this small way."

Photographer Mike Gunnill
Photographer Mike Gunnill

Singer Dame Vera boosted the morale of Britain during the dark days of the Second World War and went out of her way to entertain the troops on the front line. Among her most famous songs were the White Cliffs of Dover and We'll Meet Again.

Her private funeral is being held near her home in Ditchling, Sussex, today at Woodvale Crematorium. She had lived in the village for 50 years.

A Spitfire and a Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will fly over the village at noon. Army, Navy and Air Force personnel will wait outside the chapel and a bugler from the Royal Marines will provide a musical tribute inside.

The Ministry of Defence will be represented by a senior officer who, along with the bugler and the small family group, will be the only people at the service. A full memorial service will be held at a later date.

Dame Vera died last month aged 103. She had sold more than a million records by the age of 22.

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