Watford prepares to celebrate VE Day 75th anniversary virtually

Led by Elected Mayor Peter Taylor and Chairman Asif Khan, plans are underway in Watford to enable people to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) virtually.

The Early May Bank Holiday – also known as May Day – is usually held on the first Monday of May, but this year has been pushed back to Friday 8 May.

Watford is marking this significant day as part of the town’s Watford Together initiative, which aims to keep the community connected and to help people feel better in these extraordinarily tough times. The anniversary celebrations will give Watford an opportunity to reflect on the enormous sacrifice, courage and determination of people during World War II – an inspiring and never more relevant message.

Victory in Europe Day, (known as VE Day or V-E Day) celebrates the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of armed forces on 8 May 1945.

10.50am – Just before the two minute silence, a service will be held at Westminster. Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord West are both set to lay wreaths.

At 11am, The Royal British Legion calls on the people of the nation 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.

live VE Day 75 livestream at 11.15am

2.45pm – BBC One: A special programme will share extracts from Winston Churchill’s 8 May 1945 Downing Street victory speech, announcing the end of the war in Europe.

2.55pm – Musicians around the country will be invited to play the Last Post from their homes.

3.45pm – BBC Two: Scotland’s VE Day: Countdown to Victory will air as a tribute to the Scottish men and women who lost their lives in the war, including bombers, POWs and those back home.

7pm – BBC One: A one hour special of the One Show dedicated to VE Day.
With the help of celebrity guests and exclusive performances, they’ll be looking at how the nation is coming together in spite of coronavirus to mark the day.

8pm – BBC One: In partnership with the British Legion, Sophie Raworth will present a musical celebration to replace the live events and street parties that were meant to be.  With Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins, actor Adrian Lester and singer Beverley Knight, who will be performing some well-known songs from the 1930s and 40s. The show will end with a sing along of wartime classic We’ll Meet Again by Vera Lynn. 

8.30pm – ITV1: ITV will air a new documentary Captain Tom’s War about the newly famous veteran and his contribution in World War II.
 
Newly appointed Colonel Tom will share his recollections of the notoriously brutal Burma campaign, in which he fought.
 
9pm – BBC One: A pre-recorded address by the Queen will be broadcast at the same time her father, King George VI, gave a similar radio address on May 8, 1945.
 
9.10pm – BBC One: Following the Queen’s address, the nation is invited to come together for a rendition of Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again.
 
Footage from the extraordinary archive of celebrations all over Britain of the hours after Victory in Europe was announced will be aired to coincide.

9.30pm – Spotlights will light up the sky in Portsmouth to recreate the experience of blackouts during the war.

Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “In some ways the 75th anniversary of VE Day is made even more poignant by the current crisis. The day has an important message of hope. It reminds us that human beings are remarkable and that we have the ability to overcome even the most trying of circumstances. I think it is really important that we mark this historic anniversary. It is an opportunity to remember all those who died or were injured in World War Two and thank those who gave so much for our freedom.”​

Chairman Asif Khan said: “We are marking the heroism, courage and sacrifice of those who brought us victory in 1945. Today, we are seeing that spirit again, exemplified by our keyworkers and volunteers. I thank them for what they have done and are doing, on behalf of our town. We will never forget what they have done for us.”​

Residents will be able to enjoy taking part from the safety of their own home and pay tribute to the many millions who gave their lives. The event will start at 2.50pm and end at 3.10pm. The schedule will include music, readings and the Nation’s Toast to the Heroes of WW2. At 3pm residents are encouraged to stand up and raise a glass of refreshment of their choice and give the toast: “To those who gave so much, we thank you.”

For more information about Watford Together, visit www.watfordtogether.co.uk