Former serviceman Chris relives the moment he met Dame Vera Lynn

Chris Dove, proud to have served in the militaryChris Dove, proud to have served in the military

THE passing of Dame Vera Lynn earlier this month touched so many of us across Torbay, and the world, but a fortunate few actually got to meet the great lady in person.

Former serviceman and Torbay resident Chris Dove is part of that selected group, having spent time with Dame Vera at a Garden Party for military personnel at Buckingham Palace.

It is safe to say the experience is one that will live with Chris forever.

“I was in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers during my time in the Forces,” said Chris. “This included tours in Germany, Belize, Cyprus and in the UK. I spent over 17 years in the military and it was a great honour to serve.

Chris Dove - he loves scoring for Barton Cricket ClubChris Dove - he loves scoring for Barton Cricket Club

“I was very grateful to be invited to Buckingham Palace in 2007 for a garden party hosted by a charity supporting former military personnel who are injured or suffering from illness.

“Dame Vera Lynn walked in with the great actress June Whitfield, who is also sadly no longer with us. Both of them were absolutely fantastic, posing for photographs, signing autographs and just enjoying their time with the guests.

“She had some brilliant stories and it was genuinely awe-inspiring to meet Dame Vera. There were numerous celebrities at the event but no doubt she was star of the show. Although elderly at the time and using the aid of a walking stick, she spent more time spinning that around like Charlie Chaplin and had an abundance of energy.

“Dame Vera Lynn was a genuine national treasure.”

As well as his proud association with the military and meeting Dame Vera, Chris is a massive cricket enthusiast and spends a normal summer as first-team scorer at Barton Cricket Club.

There is, finally, some hope that cricket could be allowed to restart soon and a return to the quintessential English summer afternoon of watching local cricket.

“It’s not just the cricket but also the social side I have missed,” said Chris. “Barton Cricket Club is very much a family-orientated club and it is brilliant to see the youngsters enjoying the game.”