Date issued: 6 May 2020
A special floral display in Castle Park and VE Day flags flying from the Town Hall are just two of the ways Colchester Borough Council is set to mark the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day this Friday.
Like other towns and cities across the UK, Colchester would have held a civic service at the town’s War Memorial to mark the historic day. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and Government guidance, public commemorations have been cancelled nationwide. Instead, the council is encouraging residents to mark the occasion online and through other events it is supporting.
It has created a dedicated online resource at www.colchester.gov.uk/ve-day-75 to help residents commemorate the end of the war in Europe and remember the day, 75 years ago, when people took to the streets to celebrate peace, mourn their loved ones and hope for a better future. As well as offering links to online resources, visitors will also be able to view a special video message by the Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Nick Cope, and Lieutenant Colonel Jim McManus AAC, Commander of Colchester Garrison.
A spectacular VE Day 75 badge border display on the flowerbed of Hollytrees Lawn is set to bring a vivid splash of colour to the celebrations. Two gardeners spent three days planting more than 15,000 individual plants to create the display, which features a large ‘V’ for victory and the words ‘VE Day 75th Anniversary’.
And, in an added display of colour, Colchester Castle will be lit up with a Union Flag-type bunting projection, on Thursday evening (7 May), which will also feature silent VE Day footage in the background and the VE day emblem.
Visitors to Colchester Museums website will be able to read a special VE Day-themed blog entitled Dressed for Victory. The blog – about a little girl's dress made locally to celebrate VE day and a rare survival from the height of rationing – will go live at 9am on the 8 May.
The Museums team will also be offering several children's VE day activities online, from the 8th May, via https://cimuseums.org.uk/museumfromhome/
The council is also pleased to be supporting Wivenhoe Town Council with a £200 grant to mark VE Day. Due to social distancing measures, residents are being encouraged to come together in spirit and song by holding their own garden parties and taking part in a Doorstep Singalong, at 3pm, in partnership with Colne Radio, which plans to broadcast Churchill's famous victory speech followed by Dame Vera Lynn’s ‘We'll Meet Again’. The Royal British Legion have provided the lyrics on their website.
East Donyland, West Bergholt, Great Horkesley, Fordham and Birch town and parish councils also received a £200 share of the £1,200 funding for VE Day commemorations from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund. However, due to the current situation, it was not possible to hold all the events planned and they will now be looking to mark the occasion later in the year instead.
The Leader of the Council, Cllr Mark Cory, said: “Although we cannot celebrate publicly as planned, I am sure we will each find our own special way to pay tribute to the historic victory in Europe 75 years ago. In my community of Wivenhoe, we will be having a singalong and Colne Radio will be dedicating time to the event and playing the famous wartime song ‘We’ll Meet Again’.
“The bravery and sacrifice of the Second World War generation will never be forgotten. Their resilience in the face of protracted, life-changing adversity is an example to us all living through our own uncertain times today. Many people and nations came together across Europe to defeat Fascism during the Second World War. At this time of crisis, people have once again come together to support one another.
“I am proud that the Mayor and the council will be leading the borough’s tributes on VE Day to those who lived and died during the war years to secure the freedom we take for granted today.”