Wychavon's Village of Culture News

When the villages entered their application and proposed programme of activities for the Village of Culture 2020, the plan to take part in the Nation's V.E. Day celebrations was high on our list of events. Since 2012, the villages have taken part in national celebrations.

In the Summer of 2012 we celebrated the beginning of the London Olympics with “Bells and Butties”; in 2014 to mark the beginning of the Great War we took part in the festival of the “Lights Going Out”; we remembered the Battle of the Somme with “Whistle for the Somme” (2016) and in 2018 we took part in “Battle Over”, a celebration of the ending of the Great War. With these past successes in mind and guidance from the national programme, the villages had hoped to come together for a day, if not a weekend of activities, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of V.E. Day.

The arrival of Covid-19 has meant that we could not celebrate VE Day- as we had planned. Just as the national programme of events was modified for the moment, so villages and villagers changed their plans. Bunting and flags were made by families in the week before the event or collected from outside the Parish Room and displayed along the streets and outside the houses in the village for the start of Friday 8th May. At 11a.m. many people watched the television broadcast remembering the World War 2 generation, in a 2 minutes silence led by Prince Charles. In the afternoon, individuals gathered in socially distanced groups, in streets or large open spaces, to raise a glass, and our spirits, at 3pm and to join in the Nation's toast, “to those who gave so much, we thank you.” People of that generation retold their memories of that first V.E.Day. Some were in the villages but others were at the heart of the action in London. In the evening, some watched the concert from Buckingham Palace, many more listened to the Queen's Speech as she remembered her memories of standing on the balcony at Buckingham Palace with her family and Winston Churchill and watching the huge crowds; how different was this year's celebration. Some listened to music from the era, others had song sheets and sang songs to remember the past.

As with villages, towns and cities across the country, people did something but not what they had originally planned.

Among the individuals celebrating V.E. Day was one of our mascoteers, Brother Hackett, who took part in events in Broughton Hackett. Sister Aston is still in “lockdown” in Sophia, Bulgaria and currently is unable to return home. However, Brother Churchill did have an adventure, leaving his state of isolation in the State of Arizona to return home, after having left the United Kingdom in the middle of January, when everything appeared normal. He was due to return home in the middle of April and a return ticket was booked to fly him and his companion from Phoenix to London. After five cancelled flights, change of airports, lack of food during the flight, lack of taxi at Heathrow and therefore the need for a coach and then train journey, they arrived back home, So we celebrate their safe return and the return of others to the villages in these difficult days.

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