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Council marks 75th Anniversary of VE Day with virtual events

VE (Victory in Europe) Day, 8 May 1945 marked the end of nearly six years of war in Europe - a jubilant day following a war that cost millions of lives and caused huge suffering.

The day was declared a national holiday and the nation marked the occasion with street parties, singing and dancing. Despite the cancellation of many events, we are expecting many creative ideas from within our communities to mark the 75th Anniversary. From designing and making bunting to display in windows of houses, to dance and sing-along virtual parties and victory day baking, ideas for celebrating together apart are flooding the internet and social media.

Street party Westborough courtesy of David Rose
The Council's Armed Forces Champion, Cllr Tom Hunt said: "We look forward to seeing creativity coming through adversity to mark this momentous occasion in these unprecedented times.  Technology is playing a huge part in our lives at the moment and is keeping us connected and communicating with each other. Let's share our virtual parties and experiences to celebrate this anniversary, whilst remembering the incredible sacrifices made in the Second World War. 

"Please tag us on Instagram @guildfordbc so we can share your virtual celebrations. I am also proud that our Heritage Team have put together an online collection to mark the anniversary, offering an opportunity for people to reminisce and learn more about the historic day. This will be live on www.guildford.gov.uk from May 4."

Mayor of Guildford Richard Billington said: "We can only imagine the emotions of that day - huge joy and relief that the war in Europe had come to an end, but also grief over lost friends and loved ones. For others, combat continued in the Far East until Victory in Japan Day in August 1945.  While we cannot celebrate as we had planned on 8 May, let's all take a moment or two to remember and be thankful for the great victory that our brave men and women delivered 75 years ago. We will never forget what these heroes sacrificed to defend our freedom."

We had hoped our borough would celebrate the 75th anniversary of this historic date with events and traditional street parties. We were looking forward to  an event at Guildford Cathedral including a fabulous free military-themed afternoon for the whole family with a 1940s-style Street Tea Party, a display of military vehicles and field tent and living historians in uniform. Sadly, it will not be possible to celebrate en masse, or with our friends and neighbours in our communities as we would have liked. We have plans to mark the day as a borough and in Guildford, the Union Flag will fly over the Castle, the Guildhall and our Council offices. The Castle and Guildhall will be lit up in red, white and blue from 8 to 10 May and the Castle Grounds will display a stunning VE themed carpet bed of flowers, which will be at its most beautiful around 8 May.

We really hope that as people continue to use the area for their essential daily exercise that they will appreciate all the hard work and care that went into developing it. The Last Post and Reveille will be played by a lone Bugler and streamed via Facebook and the Mayoral Toast to the Nation will take place.

Residents are all encouraged to raise a glass at 3pm with the words "To those who gave so much, we thank you." 

Follow us on social media and at www.guildford.gov.uk to find out all the ways that we will be marking the day.

Photo (courtesy of David Rose) shows VE Day celebrations in Grantley Gardens, Westborough.

Published on Monday 4 May.