Stars bid final farewell to Forces’ Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn

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    The thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey yesterday was packed with members of the wartime singer’s family, friends from the world of music, representatives from charities she supported and members of the military. Her career as an entertainer spanned 90-plus years before she died in June 2020 at the age of 103.

    TV gardener Alan, 72, gave a personal remembrance of Dame Vera, recalling how he was often “blown away by the strength of her voice”, which would make the hairs on his neck stand on end.

    He added: “She leaves behind happy memories and admiration in equal measure.”

    Broadcaster Jonathan, 77, reflected on her close connection with the Armed Forces, noting the challenges the soldiers faced during those dark days of war and how in their quiet moments they would most yearn for home.

    He explained: “That’s why Dame Vera mattered so much, whether singing on radio programmes or with the boys on the front, entertaining the troops.”

    Mr Dimbleby also recalled how she admitted she was not fond of the jungle but when she saw the faces of the soldiers while she was performing “there was nowhere else” she would rather be and “sung her heart out” for them.

    Katie Ashby and The D-Day Darlings performed Dame Vera’s classic song The White Cliffs Of Dover while her former personal assistant Susan Fleet read the poem Goodnight Sweetheart by Michael Claughton.

    Lyricist Sir Tim Rice read from Corinthians and actor Anthony Andrews delivered a tribute to his friend, Dame Vera.

    The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr David Hoyle, who said: “We remember a talent and charm that sustained a breathtaking career, the only centenarian to have an album in the top 10.

    “As the Forces’ Sweetheart, she was utterly faithful and loyal to those who looked to her in dark times.”

    Famous faces at the event included entertainer Anita Harris, 79, TV presenters Baroness Benjamin, 72, and Dame Esther Rantzen, 81, and stunt rider Eddie Kidd, 62.

    They shared in the wonderful send-off for Dame Vera, who had so poignantly captured the hearts of the nation during the Second World War and then became heavily involved in charity work.

    She became a dame in 1975 and a companion of honour in 2016.

    Operatic singer Jenkins, 41, closed the service with a rendition of We’ll Meet Again.

    Published at Tue, 22 Mar 2022 00:01:00 +0000

    Stars bid final farewell to Forces’ Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn