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Events taking place in Cambridge to mark 75th anniversary of VE Day

It may not be the celebrations the country had envisaged, but Greater Cambridge will mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on Friday (May 8) with a series of special events.

And at a national level, a number of key speeches, tributes, historic moments, a two-minute silence and even an old-fashioned sing-along are planned to remember those who sacrificed so much during the Second World War.

In Cambridgeshire - as elsewhere - social distancing because of the coronavirus lockdown has meant a lot of replanning, with some events delayed until later this year and others being moved to online, radio and television.

Sir Winston Church and his wife Clementine. (34438405)
Sir Winston Church and his wife Clementine. (34438405)

But the spirit of the day lives on, with residents encouraged to roll out the bunting, raise a glass and join in the singing to ensure the anniversary is given the recognition it deserves.

Here, we’ve listed some of the events taking place in Cambridgeshire and nationwide so you can join in wherever you are:

  • At 11am the country will be asked to join a two-minute silence
  • Head online at 11.15am for the Royal British Legion’s 80-minute livestream which will bring together those who lived through the Second World War with today’s generation to chat about their experiences.
  • While online head to ve-vjday75.gov.uk/get-involved where the government has compiled lots of resources to mark the anniversary, including tips for hosting a tea party, bunting and creative challenges for children.
  • At 2pm the local action moves to Cambridge 105, which will broadcast a VE Day special, a radio play created by students at Chesterton Community College. Coming Home focuses on the aftermath of the war and life beyond the VE Day street parties. It was produced by students working with Corkscrew Theatre Company and was based on true stories. The play will be repeated on Sunday (May 10) at 12pm.
  • At 2.45pm solo buglers, trumpeters and cornet players are being asked to play the Last Post from their homes.
  • Cambridge mayor Cllr Gerri Bird and Lord Mayor Prof Eckart Würzner from Cambridge’s twin city of Heidelberg will link for a virtual service at 2.55pm. The hour-long service will be broadcast on Cambridge 105 and will include readings, music, speeches and a one-minute silence.
  • Winston Churchill's VE Day speech is being broadcast at 3pm. It can be heard on BBC One as part of an hour-long special programme which starts at 2.45pm. People will be invited to stand up and raise a glass in a toast, saying: "To those who gave so much, we thank you"
  • All afternoon: It’s all about tea parties. Enjoy a VE Day celebration tea party with whatever food you’ve managed to get hold of.
  • Attention turns back to the television at 8pm as BBC One broadcasts another special. This one features Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins, actor Adrian Lester and singer Beverley Knight. They will perform songs from the 1930s and 40s.
  • At 9pm a pre-recorded speech from the Queen will be broadcast followed by the nationwide sing-along of the wartime classic We'll Meet Again. The BBC will be broadcasting this bit, but you really should be outside - at a safe distance from your neighbours - singing out loud.

There is also an opportunity, via the Royal British Legion, to leave an online VE Day message. And remember to send in your VE Day celebrations photographs from across Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire. We’d love to see you raising a glass or settling down to a 1940s tea party, surrounded by bunting. Just email them to letters@iliffemedia.co.uk.

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