Date Published: 01 May 2020
Friday 8th May marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day, marking the end of World War II in Europe.
To commemorate this hugely significant date, a programme of events and activities have been planned, allowing people to celebrate and pay their respects to veterans while still observing social distancing.
Local organisers have created a series of virtual VE Day celebrations, which will take place alongside a nationwide Stay at Home Street Party, and Rutland County Council is encouraging as many people as possible to get involved.
Among the commemorations is an online exhibition, put together by Rutland County Museum, exploring what life was like in Rutland during World War II. Currently running on the Museum’s website, the interactive exhibition includes a war-time recipe book, with dishes that residents can recreate at home.
The Museum has also created a downloadable craft booklet for children, which features cut-out and colour-in activities.
Oakham Castle has created a selection of tributes and stories from World War II. Available now on the Castle’s website, it includes a video featuring original footage of the Rutland Home Guard, the local defence force during World War II.
Rutland residents are being encourage to join in with a nationwide Stay at Home Street Party, which will take place throughout VE Day on bank holiday Friday 8 May. Residents can participate by decorating their homes, shops and front windows in red, white and blue in the week leading up to Friday 8 May. The best effort, as judged by the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland, High Sheriff, Rutland County Council Chief Executive Helen Briggs and Rutland Radio’s Rob Persani, will then win a prize.
Rutland Radio is also asking residents to get in touch online to share photos of their decorations, along with any VE Day stories and images from the past. These will then be broadcast and published across Rutland Radio’s website and social media.
Alongside Rutland’s local celebrations are national commemorations taking place at Bletchley Park. The historic venue will lead these with a special toast at 3.00pm on VE Day. The Lord-Lieutenant asks everyone in Rutland to join with her in raising Rutland’s toast to those who fought in World War II.
People across the nation are also being asked to help create 1,945 metres of red, white and blue bunting. This will be used to decorate Bletchley Park once it reopens following the end of the pandemic.
“Our VE Day 75 celebrations will differ considerably from what was originally intended. Quite rightly, we must observe social distancing and celebrate safely, meaning many public celebrations and commemorations have had to be postponed. Even so, our community has risen to the challenge and we have a wide range of activities taking place to mark this historic occasion. Rutland has a large population of armed forces personnel, including many veterans, of which the wider community is hugely proud and supportive. It is incredibly heartening to see that local organisers have teamed up to create a wonderful series of virtual celebrations. In spite of our necessary physical isolation these local events and activities will be a way for the community to unite with the rest of the nation as we remember and celebrate this hugely significant event. Perhaps this year, more than any other, we will recreate the spirit of solidarity and togetherness which saw Britain through the War and made VE Day possible. Rutland’s response to COVID has shown such spirit. I encourage everyone to find out more and get involved.”
Dr Sarah Furness, Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland
Residents can keep up to date with local VE Day celebrations via three dedicated social media accounts, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
More information about the national VE Day 75 celebrations can also be found online.