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‘This might be the last time’: VE Day pageantmaster urges people to toast the veterans

PUBLISHED: 12:24 03 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:24 03 May 2020

The Celebration and Thanksgiving Service for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee at St Andrew's Church, Gorleston. Pageantmaster Bruno Peek, organiser of the service. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Celebration and Thanksgiving Service for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee at St Andrew's Church, Gorleston. Pageantmaster Bruno Peek, organiser of the service. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant 2012

Bruno Peek, Gorleston’s pageantmaster of VE Day 75, has stressed the importance of toasting to veterans “while they are still alive”.

The road to VE Day: men of the 1st Royal Norfolks on the advance during what would prove a hard-fought final campaign in the closing weeks of the war  Picture: Steve SnellingThe road to VE Day: men of the 1st Royal Norfolks on the advance during what would prove a hard-fought final campaign in the closing weeks of the war Picture: Steve Snelling

In commemoration of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 8 1945 - exactly 75 years ago - the nation was due to “toast” to the heroes of the Second World War at 3pm next Friday.

But most of the events in connection with the day were cancelled due to the government lockdown.

Mr Peek said: “The 75th anniversary will be the last one, I believe, involving many of our veterans - so I just thought it was really important we celebrate this one while people are still alive.”

Mr Peek added that families and people of all ages should take part.

“By raising a glass of refreshment of their own choice - because we’re not encouraging drinking alcohol - it’s one moment in time when they can come together and say thank you to all those millions at home and abroad that gave so much for our freedom,” he said.

Heroism on the road to VE Day: the dramatic picture of Company Sergeant Major Ernest Langford charging through the streets of Lingen on his mission to rescue a wounded officer  Picture: Steve SnellingHeroism on the road to VE Day: the dramatic picture of Company Sergeant Major Ernest Langford charging through the streets of Lingen on his mission to rescue a wounded officer Picture: Steve Snelling

Mr Peek said that originally there were plans for buglers in every city in the UK, pipers, town criers, for church bells to ring out, and for street parties and church services.

More than 1,000 pipers in 27 countries will still participate and so will town criers, he said, but they will do so from their own homes.

He said that as soon as the second lockdown began it was recognised that it would not end by early May.

He said: “It’s been gut-wrenching to say the least. But I look in the mirror and I think ‘Well, you’re still standing there alive when so many others have lost their family members’ - you just have to shrug your shoulders and get on with it.”

He said a focus of this year’s commemorations will be the women of the nation, in recognition of how they helped keep the country going during the Second World War.

Dame Joan Collins, award-winning actress, has signed up to be a patron for the Nation's Toast. Photo: SubmittedDame Joan Collins, award-winning actress, has signed up to be a patron for the Nation's Toast. Photo: Submitted

Previously, Mr Peek said that he was delighted Dame Joan Collins had been named patron of this year’s Nation’s Toast.

She said: “This meaningful gesture recognises the importance of not only the brave veterans who fought on the front lines but also the courageous women who put their lives on the line for this nation’s struggle.”


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