East Ham school wishes Dame Vera Lynn 'Happy Birthday' in live video link
PUBLISHED: 14:15 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 14:15 20 March 2017
Dame Vera Lynn has given a group of primary school students the thumbs up after they sang a medley of hits to the "forces sweetheart" to mark her 100th birthday.
Twenty Year 5 children sang We’ll Meet Again in a live video link up to Dame Vera at her home in Ditchling, East Sussex, as part of the tribute from Brampton Primary School, in Brampton Road, where the star went to school during her East Ham upbringing.
Speaking to the children after they finished performing a string of her hits with a rendition of “Happy Birthday”, Dame Vera said: “Thank you very, very much for that and for a happy, happy birthday. It was very well sung.
“I hope you enjoyed it. It was lovely.”
Addressing the choir, and an audience of about 100 Year 5 pupils, Dame Vera, who celebrates her 100th birthday today, added: “I have very happy memories of my times at Brampton School and I hope you’re happy there now. I wish you all the very best.”
Headteacher Kevin Reid ended by leading staff and students in wishing Dame Vera a “Happy Birthday” after which the East Ham-born centenarian gave them all a firm thumbs up.
Commenting afterwards, Kevin said: “As a school we’re really, really proud to be part of the celebrations.
“The fact she’s come from Brampton and gone on to be a national icon is fabulous,” he added.
Led by the school’s music teacher, Billy Kennaway, the children practised for four weeks ahead of today’s performance after the school got in contact with Dame Vera over a month ago to arrange the tribute.
Billy, who accompanied the singing with his guitar, added: “Dame Vera gave such a good example. On the day she turns 100 she gave up her time. She’s such a humble person after having done such great things. This is something the children will remember for the rest of their lives.”
Ten-year-old Harry, whose mum had made him practise every night for three weeks before the concert, said afterwards: “It was really exciting singing to someone really important and it makes you happy because you’re cheering someone up on their birthday.”
And nine-year-old Tobi, who managed to get the better of his nerves, added: “It wasn’t that scary. It was fun. We got to sing to someone who’s really important.”
Organised by the school’s chair of governors Kevin Jenkins, after Dame Vera sent the school a message of congratulations when it celebrated its own centenary two years ago, the five minute long performance, sung in front of a vanilla sponge birthday cake in the shape of the number 100, was put together especially for the school by David Curtis and Vincent Hayes from Brick Lane Music Hall.
“The children worked very, very hard,” Kevin said.
And as a reward the hard-working singers later tucked into Dame Vera’s birthday cake, recalling fond memories of their part in the star’s celebrations.