Residents celebrated VE Day 75 by staying at home and social distancing

RESIDENTS across west Wiltshire found their own ways to celebrate VE Day despite the Stay At Home lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In Bradford on Avon, mayor Cllr Simon McNeill-Ritchie laid a wreath at the town’s war memorial in Westbury Gardens while council leader Dom Newton played the Last Post.

They were accompanied by James Crawford, of the town’s Royal British Legion, for the solemn ceremony to commemorate Victory in Europe in 1945.

Cllr McNeill-Ritchie said: “Like the rest of the country we couldn’t commemorate VE Day as we originally wanted, but we have at least marked the occasion and acknowledged the sacrifices made all those years ago by members of our own community.

“Each generation faces its own challenges and we are experiencing our own at this very moment. Reflecting on VE Day I am reminded that these hard times will pass too, and that we will once again be reunited with family, friends and loved ones.”

At Melksham, a short film was put together by the town mayor, Cllr Jon Hubbard, featuring a special Cry for Peace by Melksham Town Crier Peter Dauncey and a rendition of the poem Unmentioned in Despatches by a group of children from the town.

The town council also acquired a Tommy silhouette statue to put in the Market Place to mark the 75th anniversary.

At Wiltshire Heights care home in Bradford on Avon, residents and staff were unable to go ahead with their planned street parties and celebrations with local children.

Instead, residents had their room decorated with Union Jack paper chains and pennants were draped proudly.

Wiltshire Heights’ leisure and wellness team put together an engaging activity pack and dressed up for the occasion, donning uniforms representing the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the Army and the Land Army.

Some residents told their VE Day stories which were played on West Wilts Radio during their afternoon programme. One resident remembered being in Trafalgar Square with her sister, dancing and enjoying the day’s festivities.

Residents were also able to purchase two ounces of sweets, wrapped in paper bags, from a mobile ‘ration shop’ which went around the home.

Residents spoke of their favourite sweets from their childhood and how they used to sing along to the music of the Blitz.

In the afternoon, they were treated to cake, shortbread and tea as they shared more of their memories and stories with each other.

Wiltshire Heights’ home manager, Sharon Adams, said: “We always make sure to celebrate special occasions at Wiltshire Heights and, as this day was special for so many of our residents, we knew we had to do it justice.

“They have some fascinating memories of this day and we loved to hear about life as it was in 1945 and how the residents felt when they learnt the war was over.”

In Monkton Farleigh, local Richard Smith and his partner Melissa Mendes, of C Company re-enactment group, donned the uniforms of the Home Guard and the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Corps for neighbours.

In Holt and Shaw, as elsewhere, residents put their flags and bunting to commemorate the event.

This is Wiltshire

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