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Coronavirus: East Ham-born Dame Vera Lynn urges public to ‘look after each other’ in virus fight

PUBLISHED: 10:09 23 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:24 23 March 2020

Dame Vera Lynn has celebrated her 103rd birthday. Picture: Dame Vera Lynn

Dame Vera Lynn has celebrated her 103rd birthday. Picture: Dame Vera Lynn

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Dame Vera Lynn has urged the public to “rediscover” the spirit that saw the country through the Second World War in her 103rd birthday message.

Dame Vera Lynn during the war. Picture: Susan FleetDame Vera Lynn during the war. Picture: Susan Fleet

The East Ham-born singer, who is known as the “Forces’ Sweetheart” after entertaining the troops during the 1939-45 conflict, used the occasion to bring people together in the face of the coronavirus.

Dame Vera 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 II, 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.

“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.

Dame Vera Lynn visiting pupils from Brampton Primary School in East Ham in October 1996.Dame Vera Lynn visiting pupils from Brampton Primary School in East Ham in October 1996.

“By keeping calm, looking after each other, and following the government’s latest guidance, we can overcome the threat of coronavirus just as we have overcome so many other challenges before,” she added.

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Dame Vera is perhaps best known for her recordings of songs including The White Cliffs of Dover, There’ll Always Be an England and We’ll Meet Again, which includes the line “Keep smiling through, just as you always do”.

The national treasure has released a new video of her signature tune, We’ll Meet Again – which was originally recorded in 1939 – to mark her special day.

Over the years, Dame Vera has carried out charity work with The Dame Vera Lynn Charitable Trust which was set up to relieve hardship among former members of the Armed Forces and their families.

Dame Vera said: “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.”

Born to parents, Bertram Welch and Annie Martin on March 20, 1917, Dame Vera’s started performing in public aged seven.

On reaching another milestone, Dame Vera thanked people who donated to her trust, adding: “I feel very fortunate to have reached 103.”

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