“On VE Day 1945 millions of people across the UK shared an unprecedented moment of relief and euphoria that the war in Europe was over. Service men and women were coming home; families no longer needed to live in fear and young evacuees could return from the countryside where they had been sent for their protection. Britain could finally catch its breath, and start to think about how it would rebuild. Within every community today there are people who will remember that day.
At the weekend William Hague announced details about the celebrations and commemorations the Government has planned to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8th May, and across the weekend of 9th and 10th May. I am sure you will want to remember and celebrate this important day in your own areas, and I know that in some communities plans are well underway. Communities will want to choose the events that mean the most to them, and to VE Day veterans from their areas.
I encourage you to support your communities in their celebrations. To tie in with commemorations that are happening nationally, you might want to consider:
- Participating in the national two minute silence at 3pm on Friday 8th May.
- Lighting beacons on the evening of Friday 8 May, to reflect those that will be lit across the country
- Celebrations on the evening of Saturday 9th May, to support the VE concert that will be live on the BBC
- Holding or facilitating picnics and street parties on the afternoon of Sunday 10th May
- Illuminating landmarks or buildings which are important to your areas to remember the buildings that were lit up on VE Day in 1945.
As part of the preparation you might also want to make links with your local branch or area office of The Royal British Legion; with local schools (encouraging them to visit www.tes.co.uk/dfe for ideas and resources); with local churches and cathedrals (who are being encouraged to get involved with bell ringing) and other faith institutions; and older people’s services to make sure veterans are the VIPs.
You have great experience in supporting communities celebrate national events. To help you remove any red tape or burdens from these fantastic celebrations, we have reissued our guidance on street parties and on bonfires (to refer to if you will be lighting beacons). These and more information and resources for you and your communities are available on the website www.gov.uk/veday70 and more will follow in the coming weeks.
We want this to be a national celebration and look forward to seeing and supporting what you and your communities have planned.”
THE RT HON ERlC PICKLES MP