Dame Vera Lynn, 102, summons ‘spirit that saw us through the war’ amid coronavirus

18 March 2020, 17:04

Dame Vera Lynn sends a message of positivity to the British public amid the coronavirus pandemic
Dame Vera Lynn sends a message of positivity to the British public amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Getty

By Helena Asprou

The “Forces’ Sweetheart” became popular with WWII troops thanks to her uplifting lyrics and beautiful music – and now, she sends out a powerful message to society following the coronavirus outbreak.

English singer-songwriter and actress, Dame Vera Lynn, has encouraged the British public to “rediscover that same spirit that saw us through the war”, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Dame Lynn, who lives in Ditchling and is due to celebrate her 103rd birthday this Friday (20 March), originally rose to fame with the song ‘We’ll Meet Again’ in 1939 and became an instant hit with British troops during the Second World War.

In a recent statement, she said: “All around the world, people are facing extremely difficult times. It is likely that we will all have to make hard decisions in the coming months.

“I am reminded of World War Two, when our country faced the darkest of times and yet, despite our struggles, pulled together for the common good and we faced the common threat together as a country, and as a community of countries that joined as one right across the world.

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Vera Lynn - We'll Meet Again (1943)

“In light of the challenges we now face, it is time for us all to rediscover that same spirit that saw us through the war. By keeping calm, looking after each other and following the Government's latest guidance, we can overcome the threat of coronavirus (COVID-19) just as we have overcome so many other challenges before.”

Offering words of comfort to those most vulnerable, she added: “I am sure many people, especially the elderly, are worried about what the future may hold. I encourage you all to keep smiling through.

“Even if we are isolated in person, we can still be united in spirit. As the war showed us so many years ago, we are all stronger than we think and however desperate things may seem today, remember that we can still be kind, we can still laugh... and we can still sing.”

Read more: Gareth Malone brings together self-isolating singers with ‘at home’ choir project >

Born in East Ham, Essex, Dame Lynn – known to many of her fans as the “the Forces’ Sweetheart” – also became popular for her songs ‘The White Cliffs Of Dover’ and ‘There'll Always Be An England’, which she sang in concerts for troops in Egypt, India and Burma.

At 92, she became the oldest living artist to top the UK Albums Chart, with her 2002 compilation album, We’ll Meet Again: The Very Best Vera Lynn.

Speaking about her upcoming birthday, she said: “Thank-you all for the kind gifts, cards and gestures I received to celebrate my birthday this year. Once again, I am overwhelmed by everyone's kindness and generosity, and am so grateful to you all for helping me to mark this milestone.

“I feel very fortunate to have reached 103, and my day will be made all the more special by hearing from people all around the world. Thank-you also for your generosity towards my Charitable Trust as I care very much about the work it does and the donations received around my birthday are the best gift imaginable.”