Torbay VE Day celebrations cancelled but residents urged to ‘party at home’

Swing dance tutorial from English Heritage

Swing dance tutorial from English Heritage - Credit: Archant

Torbay residents are being encouraged to hold 'stay at home' parties to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day after events across the Bay had to be cancelled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

English Heritage's VE Day pack is free to download

English Heritage's VE Day pack is free to download - Credit: Archant

The whole country was set to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two - and the first bank holiday in May was changed from Monday, May 4, to Friday, May 8 to accommodate the celebrations.

Brixham was set to stage a weekend of events including a VE Day parade led by Scottish Pipers alongside the Royal British Legion Brixham branch with representative groups from military and civilian organisations throughout the South West.

Also planned in the port were free 1940s film shows at the Old Coaching Inn in Fore Street, and free street entertainment around the town including musical performers, historical re-enactments, 1940s dance troupes and military displays.

Free guided walks were also planned for Friday and Saturday showcasing aspects of everyday life in the 1940s.

VE Day celebrations in London on May 8, 1945 Picture: Imperial War Museum

VE Day celebrations in London on May 8, 1945 Picture: Imperial War Museum - Credit: Archant

A highlight of the weekend's events planned was a 'Back to the 1940s' dance at the Scala Hall on Saturday evening.

Brixham Battery Heritage Centre was due to stage a VE Day open day on Sunday, May 10.

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Meanwhile, in Torquay, a service and commemoration of VE Day was set for Beacon Quay on Friday, May 8.

In Paignton, a VE Day Party in the Park was being held in Palace Avenue Gardens on Friday, May 8. The party was to be a day of fun and entertainment organised by the Paignton branch of the Royal British Legion.

VE Day pack from English Heritage

VE Day pack from English Heritage - Credit: Archant

Now the Royal British Legion is calling on the nation to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day from home.

A RBL spokesman said: 'Join us on Friday, May 8, as we pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the entire Second World War generation, from British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces to evacuees and those who served on the home front.

'As we face some of the most challenging times since the end of the Second World War, now more than ever it is important to unite in recognition of service to the nation, just as communities did 75 years ago.

'There are many parallels between the struggles of the Second World War and what we are going through today. We look to our Second World War generation to learn from their experiences, and we continue our work to protect them from the threat we currently face.'

Across the UK,there will be:

• 11am: A two-minute silence will be held to honour the service and sacrifice of the wartime generation and reflect on the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on so many lives across the world

• 11.15am: The nation is invited to join in with the Royal British Legion's (RBL) VE Day 75 Livestream. Grab a cup of tea and tune in as the generations of the Second World War and today are brought together to chat about their shared experiences

• 3pm: The Nation's Toast to the Heroes of World War Two. Take part by raising a glass, cheering and clapping on your doorsteps and saying: 'To those who gave so much, we thank you'

• 9pm: A pre-recorded address by the Queen will be broadcast at the exact moment her father, King George VI, gave a radio address on May 8, 1945

• 9pm: Fancy a sing-along? After the Queen's address, the nation is invited to come together in a rendition of Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again on BBC One.

The RBL spokesman added: 'At 11am, we're encouraging people across all generations and communities to take part in a national moment of remembrance and pause for a two-minute silence to honour the service and sacrifice of the Second World War generation and reflect on the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on so many lives across the world.

'There is no right or wrong way to take part in the silence, some may wish to stand at their windows, step outside their homes while remaining distanced from others, watch the broadcast on television, or simply sit in a quiet moment of reflection.'

To encourage people to stage their own 'Stay at Home' parties to mark the anniversary of the end of World War Two, English Heritage has a special pack to download free of charge.

'We are encouraging everyone to mark the anniversary with their own VE Day celebration at home, and our VE Day 75 pack includes 1940s recipes, dance steps and even a Spotify playlist to help you plan,' said a spokesman for English Heritage.

'Show us how you're celebrating! Share your party photos with @EnglishHeritage on Instagram and Twitter.'

Download the pack at www.english-heritage.org.uk