THE sad passing of the wonderful Dame Vera Lynn last week closed the curtain on one of the greatest showbiz stories of any era. She was the voice of generation, bringing hope and comfort through the wartime years, as well as becoming a mainstay of British culture for an incredible nine decades. Dame Vera’s death at the age of 103 was particularly poignant for one Brixham resident, Paul Ward, who had the honour of meeting the great lady after a night of musical magnificence at the Princess Theatre in 1968. “I was around 18-years-old at the time,” said Paul. “I asked a good friend of mine called Alan to come with me but he took some persuading, even to the point that I paid for half of his ticket, which was 10 & 6. “We sat upstairs in the Circle at the Theatre and the concert was excellent. I must have been born in a different time because the music was just fabulous and I remember the man sitting in front of us was my old science teacher, Mr Brimacombe, from Brixham Secondary Modern, as it was called then. “I had brought the programme when we entered the Theatre and I went backstage after the show. Dame Vera came out wearing a beautiful fur coat and I remember her first reaction was to say ‘what are you doing here’, as we must have been the youngest people in the audience. “She kindly signed my programme and a great experience for me to remember. She played all the wartime classics and her television show aired on a Saturday night at the time, so we knew all the songs. “It is a very special memory for me. Everybody knows Dame Vera Lynn and an honour to have met her.” Born in 1917, Vera Lynn was hugely popular through the Second World War, singing in outdoor concerts for the troops at venues across the world, including Egypt, Burma and India. This national treasure passed away at home in East Sussex on June 18.