Thursday, June 18, 2020

Tribute to Vera Lynn (1917-2020)

"Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has today offered condolences of behalf of the residents of Newham to the family and friends of forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn who died today at the age of 103.

Mayor Fiaz said: “Dame Vera was the girl next door who galvanised the morale of the nation and those who served during the darkest days of the Second World War. Born and raised in East Ham, she was a symbol of the spirit and resilience of this part of the East End, which suffered heavily during the War. She lifted the spirit of millions at home and abroad then, and fittingly, did so again in May when we marked the 75th anniversary of VE Day with a rousing nationwide rendition of her most famous song We’ll Meet Again.

“Dame Vera will be sorely missed, but will live on through her wonderful songs and continue to be an inspiration to our armed forces communities. On behalf of the people of Newham I offer our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.”

She was born Vera Margaret Welch in Thackeray Road, East Ham, to Annie Welch, a dressmaker, and Bertram Samuel Welch, an assistant coppersmith. Encouraged by her parents, Dame Vera loved singing as a child and took her maternal grandmother’s maiden name Lynn for the stage. From 1921 to 1938 she lived in Ladysmith Avenue, East Ham.

Dame Vera began singing at family events. She made her public debut aged seven at working men's clubs. Two years later she joined a juvenile troupe and from 1935 was singing on radio with the Joe Loss band. In 1937 she appeared with the Ambrose Orchestra in West End nightclubs, remaining with them until 1940 when she went solo.
She was 21 at the outbreak of war and already appeared on early, experimental television and was doing regular radio broadcasts.

It was her 1939 recording of We’ll Meet Again that thrust her into the hearts of the nation because of the nostalgic lyrics that were popular with troops abroad and families at home. That same year she was awarded the title Forces' Sweetheart following a Daily Express poll among its readers to name their favourite singer. She also starred in a radio show Sincerely Yours, popular with soldiers on the front line. She also visited Egypt, Burma and India.

For her support of the services Dame Vera received the British War Medal (1939-1945) and the Burma Star. She received an OBE in 1969 and became a Dame (DBE) in 1975. In 2016 she was appointed a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH).

To mark the milestone of her 100th birthday in 2017 Newham Council erected new signs in streets with a connection to Dame Vera, including Thackeray Road, Ladysmith Avenue, and at Dame Vera Lynn Close in Forest Gate, where the unveiling was supported by members of Newham-based G Company 7 Rifles".

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