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THE cancellation of plans for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of VE Day over the weekend of starting May 8 due to the Covid-19 emergency restrictions drove many, including Blandford Town Council, to social media to share the occasion.

A pre-recorded message from the Mayor of Blandford Lynn Lindsay was posted at midnight on May 8 on the Blandford Town Council Facebook page in which she said the town could be proud of its part in overthrowing the opposing forces during World War II.

“Today we find ourselves invoking the same spirit of community that they did in those dark years of the war. As they stuck to it then we must too with our own current challenges,” she said.

Her message was followed just before 11am by the invitation see and hear a recording at Blandford Camp of Geordie Thomson playing the Last Post which led into silence and Reveille to remember those who fought and whose lives were changed forever by their experience. Then came the fanfare to mark the 75th anniversary, local piper Roger du Barry playing Battle's O'er from the town pump in the Market Place, and the Cry for Peace from deputy town crier Liz Rawlings on the stage of the Corn Exchange.

Social distancing did not prevent a host of gatherings and street parties as people took full advantage of the good weather to share the occasion with their neighbours in front gardens, on driveways and in the largely traffic-free streets, and homes throughout the area were decorated with flags and bunting.

Many shared their memories of VE Day 75 years ago, including Mike Geary of Orchard Street was thirteen on VE Day living in Teddington and remembered having a bonfire and going to see Hampton Court illuminated. A neighbour was in Torquay to where she had been evacuated, and had been bombed. Esme Ware of Liddington Crescent was living in London where she had been under constant threat of doodlebugs, and where on VE Day crowds filled Trafalgar Square and the Mall to Buckingham Palace to hear from King George VI and Primary Minister Winston Churchill.

Phillip Day, who now lives in Canada, was living in Charles Street with his family, and when he and his friend and neighbour Mickey Downes heard the announcement of the war’s end, he ran to his mum Elaine asking: “Is Daddy coming home?”

He was six years old, and had seen his father Geoff, who served with the Royal Artillery in Italy, only twice since the war broke out. She could reply only that they would hear from him when the army sorted everything out.

VE75 Day 2020 in Bayfran Way – one of the many gatherings across the town in which families gathered safely distanced from their neighbours. See our picture gallery here on our website. With thanks to all who have submitted photographs.

VE Day 1945 celebrated on the doorsteps in Charles Street, Blandford, sent by Phillip Day from Canada, who is pictured, aged six, on the right