By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporter

Commemorations for the 75th anniversary of VE Day WILL still go ahead in Kirklees – but residents across the borough will be encouraged to raise a toast to heroes from their doorsteps.

And Huddersfield’s iconic landmark Victoria Tower on Castle Hill will be lit up in red, white and blue to remember the allies’ victory in Europe on May 8, 1945.

The town of Mirfield would have led Kirklees’ VE Day-related activities on May 8.

However the coronavirus pandemic has meant a re-ordering of plans by the town council’s Armistice and Memorial Committee and the local branch of the Royal British Legion.

The Union flag will be flown in Mirfield from 3pm on May 8 to coincide with what would have been national times across the country.

During the same ceremony the proclamation ‘A Cry for Peace Around the World’ will be read by David Horrobin, a former soldier with the Royal Artillery and chairman of Mirfield RBL.

“Citizens, one and all,
Please join this cry for peace, that you now hear from me.
Remember men and women, old and young, who died to make us free.
The women left at home did not just sit and wait.
They toiled in harsh conditions before dawn to very late.
Factories, farms, other essential jobs, the women were quick at learning.
They worked, some died, to keep the home fires burning.
As we remember this special day, do not forget that every day someone needs your aid,
Do not put away your poppies, letting your memories fade.
Celebrate with the knowledge that VE Day is also a time to remember,
Beyond the solemn wreaths of the 11th of November.
Let’s thank all those who have gone before, with their colours proudly unfurled.
Join us as united we say, ‘Peace to the world’.”

At 9pm on Friday BBC One will be featuring a singalong of the 1943 wartime classic ‘We’ll Meet Again’ made famous by Dame Vera Lynn as part of its VE Day 75: The People’s Celebration broadcast.

The song will be led by Dame Vera , now aged 103, from a window at her home in Sussex.

In Kirklees residents will be able to enjoy an online performance of the song by local singer Julia Wood live from Castle Hill.

Everyone is encouraged to join in singing ‘We’ll Meet Again’ from their doorsteps.

From 9pm to 11pm Victoria Tower will be illuminated in red, white and blue via searchlights. The town halls in Dewsbury, Batley and Cleckheaton will also be lit up as a mark of respect.

Recognising the changes that the Covid-19 lockdown has brought to all aspects of daily life during recent weeks the Mayor of Mirfield, Clr Martyn Bolt, who also sits on Kirklees Council, said: “It’s obvious that we can’t do what we wanted to do to mark VE Day.

“But we are encouraging people to be on their doorsteps at 3pm and to take part in the Nation’s Toast to Heroes – to raise a glass and cheer.

“As they do that we in Mirfield will be reading out the proclamation and raising the flag.”

He added: “It’s extremely important that we remember 75 years ago that they marked the end of the war in Europe but we must be mindful of the fact that the war in the Far East went on for several more months.

“We were hoping to honour the few remaining veterans of World War II and all our other veterans.

“Sadly that wasn’t to be.

“But in raising a toast on our doorsteps it shows that we haven’t forgotten them.

“The sentiments that rang out in 1945 are still as poignant today: that we’ll meet again.”

Council Leader Clr Shabir Pandor said: “VE Day is one of the most significant dates in our history; it marked the end of nearly six years of sacrifice both on the battlefield and at home.  The sacrifices of the men and women who lived through that time should never be forgotten.

Whilst the current pandemic might mean we are all having to celebrate this occasion differently,  it shouldn’t stop us from showing our respects and taking a moment to remember the sacrifices made by men and women in both the first and second world wars and subsequent conflicts.

 

We can all show our respects for the nation’s heroes past and present by celebrating from home, with the people in our household and from a safe distance with our neighbours, or by using technology to celebrate with those further away. 

 

Now more than ever we may be able to understand a little of what it was like for people during the war, the sense of uncertainty, the strict measures placed on daily life and the fear of something we do not fully understand. As such, there is no better time to learn more about the war and how our ancestors lived through that difficult time.” 

 

 

Kirklees Council will live stream the event from Castle Hill on Facebook www.facebook.com/liveinkirklees

It will also be available to view from the council’s website www.kirklees.gov.uk/VEDAY75.