Dame Vera Lynn should have a permanent memorial
Dame Vera Lynn's voice brought warmth and hope into the homes of ordinary people whose lives had been thrown into chaos by war. Together with Dame Vera’s family, I am launching a campaign for a permanent memorial for her.
Dame Vera Lynn holds a special place in the hearts of everyone in the UK for her wonderful, uplifting singing during the dark years of the Second World War. She travelled to many of the theatres of war, particularly the Far East, to support the fighting men she called “her boys”. Her voice on the radio brought warmth and hope into the homes of ordinary people whose lives had been thrown into chaos by war.
Together with Dame Vera’s family, I am launching a campaign for a permanent memorial for her – one of the most loved stars this country has produced. Having investigated potential sites in London without success, I have decided to concentrate on finding a more relevant site for her memorial. One place immediately came to mind - the iconic White Cliffs of Dover, immortalised in one of Vera’s most famous songs.
She never forgot the sacrifices made by the troops in the second world war
The memorial will be a permanent reminder to future generations of what this marvellous lady accomplished and how much she was loved. The project has the backing of Dover MP Natalie Elphicke and Dover Council, and a site visit to the Cliffs will take place early in April to find a suitable, accessible home for the sculpture. The people of Dover have taken Dame Vera to their hearts and there will be an enormous sense of pride in the memorial, which will cement the link between Dame Vera and the town.
Renowned sculptor, Paul Day, whose work includes the Battle of Britain Memorial on the Embankment and the monument to the fallen of the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, has agreed to design and create the memorial. Paul’s work incorporates both figure and landscape elements to tell the story of his subject’s life, and initial sketches promise a stunning sculpture.
The campaign launch video will feature contributions from Katherine Jenkins OBE, Sir Tim Rice, Sir Paul McCartney and Anthony Andrews. Each of them has been touched by Dame Vera’s life in some way. Katherine Jenkins has sung many of Dame Vera’s songs, interpreting them for a new generation. Anthony Andrew’s father was a musician, arranger and conductor at the BBC and played the trumpet on many of Dame Vera’s radio performances.
Viscount Slim, grandson of Field Marshall William Slim, commander of the 14th Army in Burma will also be featured. His grandfather called the 14th the “forgotten army” and Dame Vera’s visits to the troops in the Far East were so appreciated by the men who fought there. Vera went on an extended tour of India and Burma, sharing the basic conditions experienced by the soldiers, and they never forgot that.
A lot of people don’t know what she did. She came from an ordinary background – like me – in the East End of London. She had tough times and hard times and she was always down to earth, never grand, and always kind and generous. These days many celebrities are grand and remote, but Vera was never like that. And she never forgot the sacrifices made by the troops in the second world war. My own mother reached the age of 104, they breed them tough in the East End.
The memorial will be paid for by donations and public subscription and details of how to contribute will be published on my YouTube page and at the end of the promotional video once arrangements have been made to receive contributions.
Sir David Amess is the Conservative MP for Southend West.