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How to celebrate VE Day during lockdown

Will Gore

Posted on April 22 2020

How to celebrate VE Day during lockdown


   Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the incredible feats of Capt Tom Moore have inspired people around the world.

The British Army veteran, who on his 100th birthday was made a Colonel, has raised tens of millions for the NHS after completing 100 laps of his garden. The amazing efforts made by Col Tom, who served in India, Burma and Sumatra during the Second World War, is the perfect inspiration for people looking to mark VE Day 2020 on Friday, May 8. 

If you’re wondering, ‘is VE Day a Bank Holiday?’,  you are correct. This year marks 75 years since the end of World War II in Europe and it has been turned into this year’s early May Bank Holiday, meaning that many people will be off work on a Friday instead of the usual Monday. So, although the major public VE Day celebrations have had to be cancelled, you can still mark this important moment in Britain’s history from home. Here are some ideas of how…

Charity event

Follow in the footsteps of Col Tom by spending Victory in Europe Day doing your own fundraising activities on behalf of the NHS or a community charity. You could do laps of your garden or head out on a long (and socially distanced!) run. If you are particularly fit and have a garden or treadmill, a half marathon or even a full one would help bring in sponsorship. Alternatively, get the whole family involved in a spot of baking for a cake sale – you could drop the cakes off at the homes of people in your community and collect donations via online banking.

VE Day ‘street party’ in your garden

Due to lockdown, that great British tradition of street parties is off the agenda for this year’s VE Day, but this doesn’t mean you can’t hold your own ‘street party’ in your home or back garden. Our VE Day party ideas include making sandwiches (cucumber, of course!) and cakes, and keeping the pots of tea coming. You’ll need to decorate your party appropriately. You can customise our ‘Best of British’ banner to hang outside your house, as one of our customers has already done. We also have a free printable Union Jack flag window poster (download here) and bunting (download herethat kids will love colouring in and make for easy VE Day decorations.

Watching WWII films

One way to bring home the importance of VE Day and to better understand the experience of those who served Britain during the Second World War is to watch a great film on the subject. One film we recommend is Dunkirk, director Christopher Nolan’s visceral depiction of the evacuation of allied troops from the beaches of northern France. For a more familiar World War Two film, go for the Steve McQueen classic The Great Escape.

VE Day memories

We believe keeping family history alive is a wonderful thing to do and, if you have any elderly relatives with memories of the Second World War, why not call them up or speak to them via video call to find out their stories? If you don’t have people in your family or circle of friends with direct experience, try chatting to any elderly neighbours about their memories of this period. If they are happy to speak over the phone or online, this will be a lovely way of making connections with your community during the lockdown. Get your kids involved in these sessions to help them learn about what VE Day is.

WWII homeschool project

If you do have children to keep busy, and they are old enough to engage with this subject, then try making VE Day or another aspect of World War Two the subject of a homeschool project. Depending on the age of your child, these projects could incorporate a range of activities including using Google to ask ‘What is VE Day?’, drawing maps, writing fact cards and creating quizzes. For a practical activity, you could teach them about evacuees and ask them to pack a case with the things they would take with them if they were being evacuated. They can then talk you through their chosen objects, and explain why they have chosen them. Your reminiscence sessions could be incorporated into homeschooling, too, and there are plenty of teaching aides online to help you out. The Imperial War Museum’s website is worth checking out and Horrible Histories is always good value.

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