Vera Lynn sing-a-longs, home-made union jack flags and bunting: How care homes across Yorkshire celebrated VE Day

Jubilant parties in the streets of Yorkshire, like many around the UK, and cheering in Trafalgar Square marked Victory in Europe Day in 1945, with the British public rejoicing after six long years of war.

Saturday, 9th May 2020, 10:26 am
Pictured from Abbey Residential Home, Malton, North Yorkshire,(left to right) Emily Dalgliesh, (Carer) with resident Bill Myers, aged 84, of Pickering, and Sue Craven, (Housekeeping). Photo credit: James Hardisty / JPIMedia Resell
Pictured from Abbey Residential Home, Malton, North Yorkshire,(left to right) Emily Dalgliesh, (Carer) with resident Bill Myers, aged 84, of Pickering, and Sue Craven, (Housekeeping). Photo credit: James Hardisty / JPIMedia Resell

This year care home residents across Yorkshire have rallied round and marked the 75th anniversary of VE Day in a different yet memorable way during the coronavirus lockdown after original plans for the momentous day had to be changed.

There were poignant moments of remembrance, later followed by an abundance of 1940s sing-a-longs and raised glasses, alongside hand-made crafts and decorations, from residents across the region, all from the comfort of their care homes.

Mike Padgham, the chairman for the Independent Care group for York and North Yorkshire, said it was made all the more important for care homes across the region and the UK to mark the occasion during these unprecedented times.

Residents and staff at the Alba Rose Care Home, in Pickering, North Yorkshire, celebrated this special day with a 'garden party' and 'afternoon tea' to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the entire Second World War generation, from British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces to evacuees and those who served on the home front. Photo credit: JPIMedia Resell / James Hardisty

"As we make sacrifices ourselves at the moment in the fight against Covid-19 it is also very important that we remembered those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Second World War," he said.

Mr Padgham, who is also the managing director for Scarborough-based care provider St Cecilia's, said each of the four care homes it operates across North Yorkshire, including Alba Rose care home in Pickering, had a special tribute to the anniversary for residents despite friends and families of residents being able to visit.

The skies above the Ryedale care home were a sea of white, red and blue while We'll Meet Again lyrics, the moving words to Vera Lynn's iconic Second World War song, rang through the air, sung by an emotional chorus of nearly 20 residents with their carers.

For the occasion an outdoor marquee was decorated with home-made union jack flags from residents and bunting to create a "street party feel" at the care home. During a special picnic lunch residents reminisced with the team about where they were the day that Winston Churchill declared the war officially over.

esidents from the Ala Rose Care Home, in Pickering, North Yorkshire. Pictured (left to right) Mary Plowman, aged 100, of Yedingham, with Alice Collinson, aged 100, of Bradford.

100-year-old resident Mary Plowman, who was working as a nurse at Sunderland Royal Infirmary on 8 May 1945, told The Yorkshire Post she had poignant memories from the day.

"I wondered why there were so many people about and then a great big cheer went up – the war had finally ended,” she said.

The Yedingham local, who had previously worked at Malton Hospital, added the day was made all the more special as she passed her nursing exams on the same day.

Fellow centenarian Alice Collinson, told the Yorkshire Post she had happy memories from VE Day, which she celebrated in Bradford, where she was born.

Picturedcarers from Alba Rose Care home, Pickering. (Left to right) Rachael Palmer, (Senior Carer), Tracy Green, (Deputy Manager), Meg Green, (Carer), Jo Yardy, (Activities Coordinator), Leroy Ehima, (Carer), and Mandy Fitzpatrick, (Carer), showing the respect during the 2 minutes silence. Photo credit: JPIMedia Resell / James Hardisty

"I remember there was a big crowd there in the city centre and everyone was dancing and singing," she said.

The 100-year-old added: "Oh there was a lot of singing! Everyone was really friendly and celebrating with one another."

Meanwhile Alf Lyon, from Pickering, was just 12 years old when he attended a vibrant local street party with long trestle tables half way down Westgate.

"Everyone was so jolly... I remember the bunting up, it was all very colourful," the 87-year-old said.

Pictured from Alba Rose Care Home, in Pickering, (left to right) Meg Green, (Carer), Barbara Denham, (resident) aged 90, of Pickering, and Rachael Palmer, (Senior Carer). Photo credit: JPIMedia Resell / James Hardisty

"All the grown-ups were rushing around and we were all eating. It was food glorious food!

"I remember the buns and jelly – if you got a bit of jelly and a bun you thought you had the world."

Elsewhere Saint Cecilia's nursing home in Scarborough transported its residents back to 1940’s England with Union Jack decorations, afternoon tea and sharing memories of times passed. The event provided a talking point between residents, with many of them sharing their personal wartime stories and emotional memories with each other.

Phyllis Padgham, a 93-year-old resident from Saint Cecilia's nursing home in Scarborough, recounted the day she had to identify the bodies of her 27-year-old brother Ron and four-month year-old nephew, after bombing in Hastings.

"I had to go to a shelter for the night and I felt so alone, worrying about my family," she said.

"My mum and two sisters were at home and they got injured but were OK, but I remember my brother Ron and nephew were at home and the house was bombed and sadly took their lives."

Pictured, staff at the Abbey Residential Home, celebrated this special day along with residents with a 'garden party' and 'afternoon tea' to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the entire Second World War generation. Photo credit: JPImedia Resell/ James Hardisty

Fellow Scarborough care home resident Grace Somers, 92, also remembered war time bombing from when she was living in London.

"We've had a party with residents and staff to celebrate but also remember. We've been having trips down memory lane and sharing stories," she said.

"I remember the bombing back in the day as I was living in London. I remember having lunch and having to stay in the bombing shelter."

Other care homes across the region have also celebrated in their own unique way, as this year the Government moved the May Day bank holiday to VE Day to allow Yorkshire and the nation to remember the sacrifices so many made during the Second World War.

Abbey Residential Home, in Malton, bedecked in VE Day flags and memorabilia created a nostalgic atmosphere for residents with local singer George England performing classic 1940s songs, alongside a traditional lunch.

Mavis Brisby, 95, from Harrogate was working as a nurse at Doncaster Royal Hospital on the day when the Second World War came to an end in Europe.

"I was nursing and when the announcement came - I continued to do my job. I did this by saying 'this is a normal day,'" she said.

"For me I remember the awful feeling that so many weren't going to come home."

While Bob Hutchinson, from Helmsley, who will be 96 later this month, attended a local party in the market place, where local dignitaries attended.

"I remember a real party in Helmsley market place - it was a proper do!" he said.

Fellow Malton resident, 90-year-old Dor Eveleigh, remembered her father taking her to the seaside on VE Day in 1945, when the Allied forces celebrated victory and a return to peace time in Europe.

"During the war I was scared at night. I would hug the walls when I heard the planes," she said.

"In those days because of war people were more accepting of things in those days. You had to be.

"On VE Day I just remember such a sense of relief that the war was finally over."

Meanwhile in South Yorkshire the singer Susan Housley, who is well known in the city’s care homes, after spending 25 years performing a nostalgic repertoire for Sheffield’s elderly residents, performed in a special afternoon VE Day concert on Facebook.

While coronavirus meant all of Sue’s VE bookings cancelled, the Sheffield singer, who goes by the stage name Susan St Nicholas was determined the show would go on and donned a vintage dress, during the live VE Day show.

Pictured, residents and staff at the Abbey Residential Home, Malton, North Yorkshire, celebrated this special day with a 'garden party' and 'afternoon tea.' Photo credit: JPIMedia Resell / James Hardisty