The life of Dame Vera Lynn was celebrated during the service at Westminster Abbey. She died in June 2020 at the age of 103
It was like she knew we needed to hear the words again to be reminded to keep smiling that a rainbow follows the rain.
As the voice of Katherine Jenkins soared high in the arches of Westminster Abbey yesterday, her rendition of We’ll Meet Again was a beautiful tribute to the original singer, Dame Vera Lynn, at a Thanksgiving service for the Armed Forces’ sweetheart.
But it was also the perfect timing for a Europe once again overshadowed by conflict.
This was a long-awaited memorial service held yesterday, 22 months after the death of Dame Vera on June 18, 2020 at the age of 103 in a sunny capital.
Alongside her family, including her daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones, were members of the armed forces, Chelsea Pensioners, Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle and showbiz stars.
Dame Esther Rantzen, Baroness Floella Benjamin and Sir Tim Rice were among the guests gathered to remember the working-class girl from East Ham, London, who became an embodiment of hope during the Second World War and for “her boys.” ‘, the British troops, sang .
An icon who later devoted her life to entertainment and charity, becoming the first centenarian to score a top ten hit and even counting the Queen among her biggest fans.
We’re told that one of her greatest gifts was always instinctively knowing what people needed to hear – her words were even quoted by the Queen in her address to the nation at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
During World War II, many labeled her sentimental ballads as “squishy” — but she knew they were the solace the British craved.
And once again she hit the right notes yesterday through the mouths of Jenkins and Kate Ashby & The D-Day Darlings.
Addressing an audience of 1,500, the Dean of Westminster, Very Rev. Dr. David Hoyle, the woman who “gave voice to the hopes and fears of a generation that lived through the trauma of war.”
He added poignantly, “Hers was an instinctive understanding that we’re better together. How fitting, we will always remember their song of reunion, restoration and belonging.
“We thank someone who, in times of fear and distrust, always believed that we could come together.”
Born on March 20, 1917 as the daughter of a plumber and tailor, little Vera was already singing in workers’ clubs at the age of seven.
When the war broke out, she assumed her fledgling big band career was over. Instead, their songs resonated with the nation.
Her BBC radio show Sincerely Yours received around 2,000 letters a week, she insisted on providing entertainment when bombs were falling, and in 1944 she volunteered on a grueling five-month tour with troops fighting to retake Burma from the Japanese.
She slept on a stretcher in grass huts with dirt floors and performed in the sweltering heat.
Speaking at the Abbey, broadcaster and fan Alan Titchmarsh revealed how even the Queen became doting and asked Dame Vera to sing at her 16th birthday party in Windsor. The Queen made her a Dame in 1975 and a Companion of Honor in 2016 – an honor brought home to her.
Broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby reflected on “why Vera Lynn was so important to so many people.”
“You see the photos of young men sitting ecstatic at her feet listening to her promise that tomorrow thrushes would fly over the white cliffs of Dover,” he described.
“And it didn’t matter that Sir David Attenborough would no doubt tell us that bluebirds weren’t flying yet,” he added, laughing loudly.
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“What mattered was the mood, and when she sang We’ll Meet Again, it got to these young men’s hearts precisely because none of them knew where or when it might be.
“The boys were so young, she was still in her twenties. She comforted them, that was her great gift.”
Dame Vera herself, whose charitable work has included organizations such as the Royal British Legion, Breast Cancer UK and the Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity, would no doubt have been embarrassed.
AFP via Getty Images)
She was just, she once said, “an ordinary girl from an ordinary family with a voice you could recognize. It was that easy.”
Outside the Abbey, her niece Chris Beaumont reiterated her modesty.
“She never spoke about her time in the war. She was proud, but she wasn’t one to brag about.
“She was just Aunt Vera. She struck a chord because she was normal, a normal person.”
But as the central band of the Royal British Legion blared wartime classics through the nave and the abbey bells rang, it was clear their legacy is as powerful today as it was 80 years ago.
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https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/dame-vera-lynn-life-celebrated-26522955 The life of Dame Vera Lynn was celebrated during the service at Westminster Abbey two years after her death