Forces Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn to be honoured with flypast before funreal
Dame Vera Lynn will be honoured with a Spitfire flypast in her beloved Sussex village before her funeral.
The adored singer, who entertained troops with morale-boosting visits to the front line during the Second World War, died aged 103 on June 18.
Crowds are expected to gather in the picturesque village of Ditchling on Friday, where she lived, to say goodbye to their “special local lady”.
Ahead of the day, a giant portrait of the Forces Sweetheart was beamed onto the White Cliffs of Dover to commemorate her life.
The cortege will leave her family home and pause at the crossroads in the centre of the village to allow residents to pay their respects.
At about midday, a Spitfire and a Hurricane – two of the most famous aircraft from the war – will soar over the village as a show of respect for Dame Vera.
Virginia Lewis-Jones, Dame Vera’s daughter, said: “We want to thank everyone for their tremendous support over the past few weeks.
“My mother always appreciated receiving messages from all over the world, and Ditchling was always particularly special to her, that is why we know she would be touched that so many people want to pay their respects in the village tomorrow.”
She asked that people follow Government guidance and respect Ditchling’s residents if they are visiting from somewhere else.
She added: “It means so much to us to see my mother’s legacy living on.
“We are sure her music will endure forever but most importantly, we hope that people will continue to support those charities that she cared about so much.”
After leaving Ditchling, the cortege will move on to the crematorium in Brighton where a tri-service route-lining party will wait outside the chapel, together with a military bearer party ready to receive the coffin.
A bugler from the Royal Marines will provide a musical tribute inside the chapel, and the Ministry of Defence will be represented by a senior officer who, along with the bugler and the small family group, will be the only people to attend the funeral service.
A full memorial service will be held at a later date.
Dame Vera’s strong association with the famous White Cliffs of Dover was celebrated ahead of the funeral by the projection of a giant portrait of her onto the cliff face.
The image on the 350ft cliffs was visible to ships passing through the Channel, as well as passing planes – and on land it could be seen from the main road and the back gardens of local residents.
Ms Lewis-Jones said: “I feel very honoured to have my mother’s image on the White Cliffs of Dover, which is so closely associated with her, and I know that she would definitely feel the same.”
Following Dame Vera’s death last month, residents of Ditchling spoke to the PA news agency of the friendly villager they shared with the world.
Roy Burman, 71, said: “She was a character in the village, she joined in, while she was capable, with a lot of the activities and was known and loved by residents.
“We thought of her as very much our special local lady, although of course we shared her with the rest of the world.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub