Friday 23 February 2018

Pupils from Dame Vera Lynn's old primary school sing Happy Birthday to her

By Lucy Mapstone

It has been a whirlwind of celebrations for The Forces’ Sweetheart on her big day.

Dame Vera Lynn took a trip down memory lane on her 100th birthday as pupils from her old primary school sang Happy Birthday and serenaded her with her most beloved songs.

A specially arranged choir of 20 Year Five students at Brampton Primary School in Newham, east London, performed four songs on Skype for the Forces’ Sweetheart including her much-loved wartime hits We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs Of Dover, backed by an acoustic guitar.

Wearing a seasonal floral cardigan and speaking via Skype from her home in Ditchling, East Sussex, she thanked the starstruck students and recalled her “very good memories” at the school.

The centenarian, who was born in East Ham in east London and who would have attended the school in the mid to late 1920s, told the students: “I have very happy memories of my days at Brampton Park school and I do hope that you’re happy there now.

“Thank you once again for your wishes and I wish you all the best.

“Bye-bye for now and stay healthy and enjoy yourselves.”

She also praised the students for a “very well sung” medley and was virtually presented with a vanilla sponge cake shaped into the number 100.

She started her day by telling the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Radio 2: “When I look on my mantelpiece and see these cards wishing me a happy 100th birthday I can’t believe it, but there you are, time marches on.

“And this is what I have got up there on my mantelpiece, to remind me of how old I am.”

Asked if she had any advice on getting older, Dame Vera, who made her stage debut at the age of seven, offered : “Be active to your full capabilities, keep interested, read books, watch television and try and keep in touch with life and what people are doing, seeing and enjoying.”

Talking about her work to entertain the troops and boost morale, she said: “It was wonderful to be able to do something in those times” and added: “I’m glad it helped them to hold on to home.”

The Skype appearance is one of several celebrations marking her milestone birthday.

The White Cliffs of Dover of which she once sang lit up on Monday with a 350ft projection of the singer’s face, along with the words “Happy Birthday Dame Vera Lynn” and “Celebrating 100 years of a national treasure”.

Last Friday saw the launch of her new album, Vera Lynn 100, which features re-orchestrated versions of her most beloved music alongside her original vocals, making her the first centenarian to release an album.

Press Association

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